Category Archives: John Romaniello

Intermittent Fasting 101

INTERMITTENT FASTING may well be the most discussed dietary concept on the Internet right now.
Like many other “breakout” diets, intermittent fasting (IF) is growing by leaps and bounds; however, unlike most of the other diets, IF is gaining ground despite that the practice challenges many long-help assumptions about nutrition.
In fact, practicing IF forces you to eat in direct oppositionto those assumptions, and that—along with the results—it what’s generating all the buzz.
Before we get into the why and the how, let’s first discuss the basics of the what.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
The most accurate definition is the simplest one: IF is merely alternating intervals of not eating (fasting) with times where you are allowed to eat.
Or, to use IF parlance, you alternate a fasting period with a feeding window.  How long each will be varies depending on which “type” of IF programming you select—and there are several.
Each method of intermittent fasting will be discussed in a later article, but for now, it’s enough to mention that the differences come from expanding the fasting window.  The fasting period on specific plans can range from 16 hours all the way up to 36 hours (with several stops in between), and each of those specific plans will have benefits.
It’s also important to note that every one of us does some form of fasting, whether you realize it or not.  The least technical-while-still-being-accurate definition of fasting is simply “not eating,” so anytime you’re not eating, you’re fasting.
Most of us aren’t on a structured timetable of meals where the window of fasting is constant, so rather than fasting intermittently, we’re fasting haphazardly—and there’s no benefit there.
The exception for most people is sleep.  When you’re sleeping, you’re fasting; therefore most of us have a fairly rigid fasting period of 6-8 hours per night, until we eat in the morning.  It is for this reason, by the way, that our morning meal is called “breakfast,” as you are literally breaking your overnight fast.
Which brings me to my next point.
The Most Important Meal of the Day? Intermittent Fasting Science Tackles the Insidious Scourge of Breakfast!
Breakfast is sort of a hot topic in the IF world, and in fact seems to be the first point of contention for people looking in on intermittent fasting from the outside.  Don’t we need breakfast?
Intermittent Fasting proponents tend to say no…which flys in the face of much of the dietary advice coming from every authority from Registered Dietitians to MDs.  IF peeps don’t give a shit, though, because these dudes hate breakfast.
Here’s why: for years, we’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  In fact, many people are often scolded by their physicians for skipping breakfast—particularly people who are embarking on a plan to lose weight.
There is some credence here, by the way: a study conducted in 2008 showed that participants who ate a calorically dense breakfast lost more weight than those that didn’t.  The espoused theory for the results was that the higher caloric intake early in the day led people to snack less often and lowered caloric intake overall.
The value of that study has been questioned for many reasons, not the least of which is that despite the fact that roughly 90% of Americans eat breakfast, close to 50% of Americans are overweight.  If eating breakfast is the first step to weight loss, then something else is going wrong.
More evidence seems to support the breakfast idea, though. There are some epidemiological studies that show a connection skipping breakfast and higher body weight.
Of course, proponents of the breakfast theory are quick to suggest that most people are simply eating the wrong breakfast, as quick n easy meals like Danishes and doughnuts, which can lead to weight gain.
However, the crux of the breakfast study is ultimately that a larger breakfast leads to lower overall caloric intake. That is, the argument for a larger breakfast ultimately boils down to energy balance; if that study is reliant on the position that weight loss comes down of calories in versus calories out, then the make up of the food shouldn’t matter.  If we’ve learned anything from Mark Haub’s Twinkie Diet, it’s that you can eat garbage and lose weight; clearly, something else is going on.
The only real argument that breakfast crowd have is insulin sensitivity.  As a very basic note on what this is and why this matters the more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you are to lose fat and gain muscle.  Increasing insulin sensitivity almost always leads to more efficient dieting.
Getting back to it, supporters of eating breakfast declare that as insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning, eating a carbohydrate rich breakfast is going to have the greatest balance of taking in a large amount of energy without the danger of weight gain.
Intermittent Fasting Guys HATE This Movie, And This Breakfast Eating, Insulin Resistant, Rag-Tag Group of Mismatched High School Archetypes.
This brings us back to IF.  You see, insulin sensitivity isn’t higher “in the morning”; it’s higher after the 8-10 hour fasting periods you experience if you sleep.  Or more specifically, insulin sensitivity is higher when glycogen levels are depleted; as liver glycogen will be somewhat depleted from your sleeping fast.
Intermittent fasting takes that a step further: it seems that extending the fasting period beyond that 8-10 hours by skipping breakfast (and therefore further depleting glycogen) will increase insulin even further.
Insulin sensitivity is also increased post-exercise (due to further glycogen depletion in addition to other mechanisms), and so I feel it makes to most sense to compound benefits by training in a fasted state and then having a carbohydrate meal or shake, maximizing the already potent effect of your para-workout nutrition.
Ultimately, this all means that there’s nothing special about breakfast and no need to eat first thing in the morning—the first meal you eat to break your fast will be exposed to the benefits of increased insulin sensitivity.
On the other hand, I’ll take my tongue out of my cheek long enough to say that there’s nothing inherently evilabout breakfast, either; that is, even if you practice some form of fasting, you can still eat breakfast.  Remember, the more important part is the length of the fast, not the time of the fast.  Skipping breakfast just happens to be the easiest way to implement a fast.
A discussion that mentions skipping breakfast—or any meal, really—will invariably lead into a discussion of meal frequency, which leads me to my next point.
On Frequency: Intermittent Fasting Crusaders Battle the Myth of Six Meals
And now we come to the It seems that over the past 15-20 years, hundreds of diet books have been printed, and no two were identical.  In fact, some of them have been in direct opposition to one another.
Calorie-restrictive plans like Weight Watchers certainly don’t agree with plans like the Atkins diet, the first iteration of which allowed dieters to at all they want, as long as they kept carbs low.
Similarly, carb conscious plans generally call for products like yogurt or cottage cheese to be used as portable sources of protein, but many plans to reject dairy products altogether.
Despite the incredibly disparate natures of so many of these diets, the one thing that has been consistently suggested in most books published over the past 20 years is the frequency of meals.
If you’ve read a diet book, seen a nutritionist or hired a personal trainer at any point during that time, you’ve probably been told that in order to lose weight, you need to eat 5-6 small meals per day.  (Note: this suggestion is sometimes phrased as “3 meals and 2 snacks.”)
This style of eating, commonly referred to as the frequent feeding model, is popular with everyone from dieticians to bodybuilders, and has been repeated so often for so long that it’s generally taken as fact.
Which it isn’t.
In fact, the reputed benefits of eating small meals more often have never been scientifically validated.
The first and most commonly cited of these is that eating frequently “stokes the metabolic fire.”  Put less colloquially, the theory suggests that since eating increases your metabolic rate, the more often you eat, the more your metabolic rate will be elevated.  That’s true, but it doesn’t lead to more fat loss—in fact, it’s beenscientifically borne out that there won’t be a difference at all.
When you eat, your metabolic rate increased because of the energy required to break down the food you’ve taken in.  This is called the Thermic Effect of Food, or TEF.  So, while you’re be experiencing energy expenditure due to TEF every time you eat, the net effect is no different regardless of how many times you eat, as long as the total amount of food is the same.
You see, TEF is directly proportional to caloric intake, and if caloric intake is the same, at the end of the day, there will be no metabolic difference between eating 5-6 meals or 2-3.  In fact, as long as the total calories are the same, you can eat ten meals or one meal, and you’ll still get the same metabolic effect.
Further, one study has shown that eating more frequently is less beneficial from the perspective of satiety, or feeling “full.”  Which means that the more often you eat, the more likely you are to be hungry—leading to higher caloric intake and eventual weight gain.
Intermittent Fasting guru Martin Berkhan has summarized this study, it’s meaning, and the effects of such things quite well, but suffice it to say that it seems people who eat larger meals less frequently take in fewer calories and are more satisfied doing so.
A smaller number of meals obviously fits well into fasting protocols—if you are condensing the amount of time you’re “allowed” to eat into a small window of 4-8 hours, having more than 2-3 meals becomes impractical at best and impossible at worst.  My clients who practice IF eat 3 meals (not counting a post-workout shake, which they consume on days they train with weights).
Calories, Hormones, and Eternal Life (Okay, Not Really): The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Obviously, above and beyond the debunking of long-believed myths, there are numerous benefits to Intermittent Fasting that make it so popular.
Firstly, as we’ve established thus far, people who practice IF eat less frequently.  In addition to feeling hungry less often, and more full when they do eat, these people benefit in terms of practicality and logistics.
After all, eating fewer meals means fewer meals and/or buying fewer meals.  In addition to saving you time (and, probably, money), this also means that you exposed to flavors less often, and are therefore less likely to get bored and eat something you shouldn’t.
We’ve also mentioned that eating less frequently tends to result in eating fewer calories overall, but that’s a pretty important point so it bears repeating: eating less frequently tends to result in eating few calories overall.
And speaking of caloric restriction: that brings us to another benefit.  IF plans that require full day fasting drastically reduce your calorie intake, so if you are using a style of IF which requires you to fast for 24 hours twice per week, you’re reducing your food intake by about 30%.  It’s not hard to see how that would lead to weight loss.
Going a little further, by restricting calories, you’re forcing the body to look elsewhere than the gut for energy, which can encourage cellular repair. That is, a cell will turn to its own damaged proteins for energy.  While that cycle would be bad in the long term, keep in mind you’re only fasting for “brief” periods; when you eat again the cell will use the new cell-stuff replace the old cell-stuff that’s been consumed.  All told, this phenomenon—which, again, stems from caloric restriction—can generally help prevent both disease and age.
For something more specific: one study out of the University of Utah showed that people who fasted just one day per month were 40% less likely to suffer from clogged arteries.
While there’s certainly a lot to be said for caloric restriction, it’s important to keep in mind that intermittent fasting isn’t just about eating fewer calories—there are also hormonal benefits that lead to improved body composition.
For starters, there’s the improved insulin sensitivity that comes with fasting, especially when paired with exercises, as we’ve covered; however, fasting has other hormonal benefits, including (but not limited to) an increase in the secretion of growth hormone (GH).
Growth Hormone has a myriad benefits—a discussion of which in full is beyond the scope of this writing—but for our purposes it’s enough to say that the more GH your produce, the faster you can lose fat and gain muscle.  Additionally, GH tends to offset the effects of cortisol, which is (in part) related to belly fat storage; so it seems likely that fasting can help you lost belly fat, at least indirectly.
Still not satisfied?  Well, if you need another benefit, fasting reduces inflammation as well, which can have implications for improved immunity as well as increased fat loss.
Wrapping Up: 
The most important thing to remember about Intermittent Fasting is that it isn’t a “diet” it’s a way of eating, anutritional lifestyle that will allow you to reach your goals in an efficient and convenient manner, and then hold onto your physique one you achieve them.
Of While IF isn’t for everyone, nor is it a perfect plan, it’s certainly an effective way to lose weight.
In addition to the hormonal benefits inherent in the practice, you’ll also feel more satisfied with your food, feel hungry less often, and probably save some money on food!
Moreover, you may live longer…if, you know, you’re into that.
So, even if you never try IF, you can at least appreciate that it’s forced the industry at large to re-evaluate the “truths” we tend to cling to.
Perhaps it’s for this reason that Intermittent Fasting seems to be generally received with appreciation and acceptance, while low carb diets, Paleo eating and the “Twinkie diet” all have people on both sides of the line either praising or lambasting them.
That is, Intermittent Fasting is well received once people see the research—and there’s a simple reason for that: it works.
Next time, we’ll discuss the various methods of intermittent fasting, touching on the theories and reasoning behind each protocol, as well as the fitness professionals popularizing each on.
UPDATE: Part Two: Intermittent Fasting 201, gives you a breakdown of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting.
If you’re interested in the hottest Intermittent Fasting program on the web, check out Fat Loss Forever – it contains ALL of these benefits and more.

The 6-Week Sprinting Solution

The 6-Week Sprinting Solution

Six Week Sprinting Solution

Welcome to the 6-6-6 Sprinting Solution – the 6-week interval-training program that will radically alter your conditioning, increase endurance and power, and drop stupid amounts of body fat.
Interested? Well, before we get into the program, let me tell you how this all started.

I’m Getting Old(er)

It’s true. I’m getting old…er. Less than six months from now I’ll be 30, and boy does that feel weird. As I crest the rise of the hill leading the way into the twilight of my youth, I’m starting to realize what everyone has always told me is true: it sucks getting old.
Now, before those of you in the 40-50+ crowd jump all over me, let me say that yes, I’m completely aware that by most standards, I’m still quite young.
I guess I should amend my statement to say, “Things change as you get older.” I think we can all agree on that, no matter how old we are.
As recently as five years ago, things were a bit easier. Fact is, things were a breeze, especially in the fat loss department.
When I was 21-24, man, I was a . I needed exactly three weeks – and three weeks – to get ready for the summer. That meant if beach season started in June, I didn’t really have to start prepping until sometime in May.
I didn’t know how good I had it.
This year, I had to start my summer prep in late March. Even with my advanced fat loss workouts and my knowledge of diet, it still took me about 6-8 weeks to get into the extreme lean shape that I like to maintain for the summer.
To try to figure out what the deal was, I pulled out my training journals from the past several years and compared my summer prep.
The first thing that jumped out at me was my diet. I used to eat the same thing every damn day! The foods were all healthy and even tasted good, but my culinary limitations certainly put a clamp on any kind of variation.
But that wasn’t the answer. While I enjoy a broader spectrum of foods today, my overall diet is very similar in terms of calories and macronutrients. I eat more foods, but I’m not eating more food.
If anything, my diet has gotten better. I know a lot more advanced fat loss techniques than I did five or six years ago, and have tweaked practices like intermittent fasting, cheat days, and carb/calorie cycling to achieve impressive transformations with hundreds of soldiers in the growing Roman Empire.
Looking more closely, the difference between what I and what I was was sprinting. Back in the day, I used to sprint three times per week, without fail. Every. Single. Week.
Now, I sprint about once per week.
However, it’s not quite that simple. While I sprint less often today, I’ve taken that into account in how I train today, and the added activity from my workouts more than makes up for it.
This led me to ask, “Is there something special about sprinting that helps me lose fat so quickly?
Only one way to find out, of course.

Return to the Track

Six Week Sprinting Solution

The next week, I sprinted Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, doing traditional HIIT/Tabata style workouts. It went pretty well; felt a bit like Ol’ Roman lost a step or two, but I guess I shouldn’t expect to hold onto my 40-yard dash time forever.
I did this for two weeks. Then, Saturday morning of the second week, I got up and had a serious problem.
Or perhaps, I woke up, because I certainly didn’t get up – I had a hard time getting up most of the day. My hamstrings, glutes, and lower back were killing me, although I’d been aggressively foam rolling and stretching.
I got some soft tissue work done – massage and ART – and thought I’d be good for Monday. I was excited to get back to it because, to be honest, I getting leaner already. I guess there is something special about sprinting after all.
Well, Monday rolled around, and during my warm up, I damn near felt my hamstring pull off my femur. Why did this happen?
This brings us back to the “I’m getting older” matter. It means that I can’t recover as quickly.
Add to that another problem: I’m too good at it.
Between football and track, I learned how to truly sprint, not just jog really fast. I know the techniques, I understand stride, and I’m a power-based runner.
All of which means that when I sprint, I do it correctly – I use a lot of muscle and generate a lot of force. While that’s probably what makes sprinting so effective for me, it also makes it very taxing.
Herein lies the problem. Sprinting seems to have an almost magical effect on fat loss, but the better you are at it, the more careful you have to be. If you’re an advanced trainee, there’s a threshold that you can’t cross without greatly impeding your ability to recover.
I set forth to figure out how I could fix it and get shredded like when I was a kid.
I did a lot of experiments, ranging from decreasing the length of my sprints and just doing more of them, to packing all my sprinting into one day (bad idea).
I managed to find what works the – a happy medium of incredible results, paired with a set up that allows for total recovery.
I mean total recovery. Not only will this sprint set up allow you to recover in a way that it won’t interfere with subsequent sprint sessions, you won’t even mess up your weight training workouts – even if it’s a leg workout on the same day!
The secret is frequency.
The more often you train, the better your recovery – to a point. You still need to rest. In this program, you’ll be sprinting .
If this all sounds counterintuitive given my injury woes from sprinting three times per week, consider this little wrinkle: in training, whenever you frequency, you have to but (not necessarily decrease) volume.
In a weight-training context, if you normally bench for ten sets on Monday and wish to increase your frequency, you could split up benching over two days, say five sets on Monday and Thursday.
Now, instead of just doing five sets on each day, you could try six. Your total volume goes up, but your daily volume goes down.
Taking it a step further, you could do four sets, three days per week. Finally, if you want to take it all the way, you could do three sets, five days per week. Your total is 15 sets – 50% more volume – but spread over a greater time.
Because you’re resting and never hitting total exhaustion, you can actually perform more work over the week. Furthermore, you could also gradually increase the weight to increase results.
Understanding this principle, I began applying it to sprinting. And what do you know, it worked. Over the course of a few weeks, I came up with:

The 6-6-6 Sprinting Solution

Six Week Sprinting Solution

Bam. It’s that simple.
Back when I used to do full sprint workouts three times per week, I’d perform 10 sprints per workout, for a total of 30 sprints per week. Each of these was a full-out sprint, lasting 20 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between.
Pretty obvious why it was so challenging, huh?
I decided to up the frequency and keep the volume moderate. I wanted to sprint every day, as I predicted that this would allow me to drastically lower the volume to allow for recovery.
After experimentation, I found that I could sprint six days per week with no issue.
Then came the volume. I began with five sprints per day, meeting my total of 30 sprints per week. At 20 seconds each, it would still be a challenge, but I thought I could do it.
Well, it worked for a bit, but I started to feel burnt out again.
I decided to look at volume a bit more deeply. I started looking at my total week work time; that is, my total amount of time spent sprinting.
In my initial model of three days per week and 10 sprints, I was sprinting for a total of 200 seconds per day, or 600 seconds per week.
In my first version of sprinting six days per week, that was simply divided over six days instead of three. That is, five sprints of 20 seconds for a total of 100 seconds per day, or a total of 600 seconds per week.
It was good, but I still felt like I wasn’t recovering well enough. That’s because, like you, I simply wasn’t accustomed to daily sprinting. My legs needed more time to recover.
So it was back to the lab again, this time to see if the workload could be tweaked. I reasoned (correctly) that if I allowed myself to to the total time workload, I could not only achieve 600 seconds, but also perhaps more – all while burning fat and allowing for adequate recovery.
I switched the rest periods to allow for optimal recovery during each workout, giving me the “space” to make progress from week to week.
All told, this new program would give me the best of all worlds – the benefits of daily sprinting (constantly elevated metabolic rate, daily caloric burn), as well as built-in progression, meaning that while I’m forcing adaptation from increasing workload, I’m staying ahead of the adaptation curve.
Increases in fat loss, aerobic capacity, and overall athleticism. All with minimal time and a small daily commitment. Not too shabby.
Okay, enough talk. Let’s get to the workouts!

The Triple 6 Workouts

Six Week Sprinting Solution

  • The number in the work column of the tables below represents your work time, and the number in the rest column is your rest time. If you see “10” and “20” in those columns respectively, that means sprint for 10 seconds and rest for 20 seconds.
  • These workouts are done on a treadmill, which allows for convenience with both performance and timing. While you can do these as outdoor sprints, you’ll run into the issue of clock-watching.
  • Sprinting on a treadmill is a bit tricky. Be careful, and be sure to use the handrails as you jump on and off. When you’re resting, simply grab the handrails and jump onto the side rails of the treadmill. To jump back on, grab the handrails and start sprinting again. Maintain your grip on the handrails for the first second or two.
  • If you choose to train outside, my recommendation would be to sprint for distances instead of times. Take the given time and multiply it by 8; that’s the distance you’ll run in yards. So a 10-second sprint becomes an 80-yard sprint. Your rest period is the amount of time it takes to briskly walk or jog back to the starting point.
  • Each week, do a single sprint workout, six days per week. The workouts are structured to be progressive, allowing each week to build on the previous week.
  • If at any point you feel like the workout is too easy, simply increase the speed or incline on the treadmill – not the time. The time is how we measure progress week to week, so increasing your sprints because you feel strong one day is going to mess with the program.
  • Ideally, do these workouts first thing in the morning. If you’re going to be training in the morning, sprint first and train after.
  • Stretch before and after. Stay hydrated. Insert other disclaimers. Don’t be an idiot and hurt yourself.

On to the show!

Week 1

Sprint Work Rest Sprint Work Rest
1 20 10 4 20 10
2 10 20 5 10 10
3 15 15 6 10 50

Notes on Week 1: You’ll notice that in this week you’re sprinting for a total of 510 seconds, which is a great start. However, the important part here is the set up. You’re never going to dig yourself into too deep of a hole, because the rest periods are structured to allow you a nice bit of recovery.
There are only two sprints lasting 20 seconds – one when you’re fresh, and one when you’ve rested for a “long” period of 15 seconds. More importantly, each of those 20 second sprints is followed by a short sprint of only 10 seconds. This short follow up sprint won’t tax you too much, so you can recover more effectively on subsequent rest periods.
Overall, this will break you in and allow for some nice fat loss. Week one is also a good gauge of where your weaknesses may reside.
If at the end of the workout you’re winded, we’ve got some issues and you should repeat this. On the other hand, if you’re not winded but having trouble closing out some of the sprints, that may be an issue with local fatigue, and will work itself out over the week.

Week 2

Sprint Work Rest Sprint Work Rest
1 20 10 4 15 15
2 10 20 5 15 15
3 15 15 6 10 50

Notes on Week 2: During the second week of the program, you’ll notice that your total sprint times are the same. Where’s the progression from week one?
While your work time is unchanged, the structure of the workouts is what makes this a bit harder. You only have a single 20-second sprint here, followed by a short 10-second sprint. However, from there you have to deal with three 15-second sprints in a row, all with equal rest periods. This forces higher performance with less rest.
While you’re not doing more overall work than Week 1, you’re allowed less recovery during the latter part of the workout. This will help increase work capacity and prepare you for more total work in the coming week.
Moreover, having multiple “long” sprints helps build local endurance in your legs, ensuring that as you progress in the program, tired legs won’t hamper you.

Week 3

Sprint Work Rest Sprint Work Rest
1 20 10 4 15 15
2 15 15 5 15 15
3 15 15 6 10 50

Notes on Week 3: This week, we progress in a few different areas.
First, you’ll notice that the total work time increases to 90 seconds of total sprinting per day. While five seconds may seem a small difference, when we’re talking sprints, every little bit helps.
Looking at the structure, you can see how the difficulty will escalate. The short 10-second sprint and 20-second rest combo is gone, meaning that your longest rest period is now at the very end of the workout.
Instead of being able to recover to any real degree, you jump into 15/15 alternations for the majority of the workout.
Although it’s only a 1:1 work/rest combo, it’s still physically exhausting and serves to improve cardiovascular endurance while burning fat.
This also begins to draw on the enhanced local endurance in your legs that was built during the first three weeks.

Week 4

Sprint Work Rest Sprint Work Rest
1 20 10 4 10 20
2 20 10 5 15 15
3 10 20 6 15 45

Notes on Week 4: Again, we have a week where there’s no increase in total training volume, but rather changes in structure.
Week 4 introduces the first appearance of two 20-second sprints back to back. This is exceptionally challenging, particularly with only 10 seconds of rest in between.
Thankfully, by this point you have a lot of experience with doing 15-second sprints back to back, so you’re prepared for it.
The structure here is hard in the beginning, then a bit soft in the middle – two 10-second sprints with 20 seconds of rest isn’t hard.
In many ways, this week is almost a “deload” week. It’s easier than previous weeks, and serves to prepare you for the upcoming long sprints back to back.

Week 5

Sprint Work Rest Sprint Work Rest
1 20 10 4 15 15
2 20 10 5 15 15
3 10 20 6 15 45

Notes on Week 5: This week workload goes up again, but that’s not the only way things get more difficult.
Along with increasing sprint time to 95 seconds per day, you’re also packing the seconds closer together with less rest.
As with Week 4, the long sprints are in the front; however, this time you only have a single 10-second sprint/20 second rest combo, followed by three 15/15 bouts to finish off the workout.
You’re being forced to increase work output with diminished recovery time. You’ll never fully recover, and each sprint will take it out of you, making subsequent sprints even harder.
Of course, the end result is increased fitness and decreased fatness.

Week 6

Sprint Work Rest Sprint Work Rest
1 20 10 4 15 15
2 20 10 5 10 20
3 15 15 6 20 40

Notes on Week 6: This week, we finally get to the goal of sprinting for 100 total seconds per day, totaling 600 per week.
However, unlike my first shot at this, you won’t be burned out because you’ll have prepared for it over the previous weeks – while losing fat!
With Week 6, it’s all work and no play. You’ve got two 20-second sprints in the front. This time, there’s no 10-second recovery sprint followed by 20 seconds of rest.
No sweet air – just a double dose of 15-second bad boys to follow it up.
After that, you finally get a break with a 10-second sprint. After 20 brief seconds of rest, however, you’re right back into the grind, finishing out strong with a 20-second sprint of agony.
By the end of the workout you’ll be cursing my family for six generations in either direction. You’ll also be burning fat and getting into the best cardiovascular shape of your life.
Week 6 can be performed for up to two additional weeks (stretching the program to a total of 8 weeks) before you need to take a week off and rest.
Provided you practiced some dietary diligence, by this time you should also have an adorable litter of six round and fuzzy abdominal muscles snuggled up neatly above your belly button. In honor of the efficacy of this program, please name the cutest of the bunch Roman.

Other Training and Odds and Ends

Six Week Sprinting Solution

Of course, you’ll want to do some other training outside of just sprints during the next six weeks, so it’s important that we briefly cover that.
While the 6-6-6 program can be done in concert with nearly any training program, some are a better fit than others. The best training program would be a full body fat loss workout, done 2-3 times per week.
First, a fat loss workout is going to help maximize the effects you’re looking for with the program in the first place (duh). Second, a full body program is very much in the same vein as the 6-6-6 program itself – frequent stimulation, but lower daily volume.
This means that you can do a full body program with no modifications, despite the fatigue and compromised recovery you’re likely to have from the sprinting.
Here’s the workout I recommend while following the 6-6-6 Sprinting program:

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Barbell Push Press 1 8
A2 Pull-up with 2-second pause 1 6-8
A3 Alternating DB Lunge 1 8*
A4 Single-Leg Glute Bridge with 3-second pause 1 8*
A5 Bodyweight Plank 1 45 sec.
A6 DB Floor Press 1 12
A7 Bent Over Barbell Row 1 10
A8 Goblet Squat 1 6-8

Remember that despite the short daily workout, sprinting is taxing, and should be given top priority, at least for six weeks. Therefore, while the above workout is effective, it’s designed to work alongside the sprints, which is why the leg volume is toned down. As long as you choose appropriate weights and move briskly, this brief circuit will shred off fat while keeping your strength levels up.
For those who wish to continue on with their regularly scheduled training, the obvious modifications concern leg training.
First, on days where you train legs, sprinting will be . If you choose to sprint on your leg training days (masochist), sprint first and reduce your weights. Period. Don’t be a tough guy, and don’t think you’re smarter than ol’ Roman. Reduce the weight, and do the sprints first.
The other change to make is to avoid sprinting the day after your leg training. You need one day to recover. Take that time to stretch, do some extra foam rolling, and read my blog.

Wrap Up

In a perfect world, we’d all grow old gracefully and become more distinguished versions of our youthful selves while not losing an ounce of our youthful athletic ability; like George Clooney with Reggie Bush’s six-pack and 40-yard dash time.
Unfortunately, Father Time catches up with all of us, and while we can’t stop the clock, we can slow that fucker down some. Sprinting – along with other activities that require natural athleticism – is a great place to start.


>Lose Fat, Stay Strong


These are the facts:

  1. Training with light weights while on a fat-loss diet makes you really good at lifting light and pretty awful at lifting heavy. That’s unacceptable.
  2. Heavy training, even while in a caloric deficit, is vastly superior for holding on to lean body mass.
  3. Unless you want to end your diet as a weak (albeit lean) little man, then you must include some heavy strength training in your plan.

Old School Bulk ‘n Cuts

Bodybuilding-style bulking and cutting periods both have drawbacks. With bulking periods, you tend to put on a fair amount of fat as you seek to gain muscle size.
With cutting periods, you run the risk of losing lean body mass in your quest to reduce body fat. This is bad for a number of reasons. It sets you up for a series of two-steps-forward, one-step-back situations. It’s painfully frustrating, and it also compromises progress in the long run.
Remember, your lean body mass is one of the main things that determines your metabolic rate. Sacrificing LBM to get lean is counterproductive because you certainly won’t stay lean for very long – especially once you go back to trying to gain mass.
At best, if you’re able to hang on to your mass, there will be the problem of losing strength. Now, if you’re lean, you’ll be placed in the unenviable position of trying to play catch-up with your strength levels for a few weeks. That’s another unacceptable tradeoff.

The New Way

We seem to be getting away from the old bulk-and-cut practices of bodybuilding. That’s a good thing. Instead, we should always be trying to achieve consistent body recomposition and lean gains.
Make no mistake: it’s possible to stay lean while gaining mass. Similarly, with intelligent programming, it’s possible to maintain and even gain strength and muscle while losing fat.

Go Heavy, Get Lean

Successful competitive bodybuilders already know this. To maintain muscle mass while dieting down into the single digits, you gotta train heavy.
In fact (drug use aside), one of the main things these guys do in the final stages of contest prep is train with heavy weight, which, coincidentally, also increases both neurogenic and myogenic muscle tone – a necessary weapon on a competition stage.
When I first started incorporating heavy strength training into my fat loss programs, I used a 5×5 protocol because this is what many bodybuilders used. It worked. My clients lost fat and maintained lean body mass with relative ease. However, it always nagged at me that this method wasn’t creating a solution, just addressing a problem.
Here’s the deal: every training session should be used to make you better, not just prevent you from getting worse. The 5×5 protocol was fine, but I knew there was an even better way to keep the lean mass while accelerating fat loss.
Strength circuits were the solution.

The Set-Up

Strength circuits take three or four exercises and set them up into circuits. Circuit training, done correctly, is one of the most effective weightlifting methodologies there is when fat loss is the goal, and strength circuits are no different.
You’ll move from one exercise to another with minimal rest in between, and then repeat as necessary. However, there’s a twist here that makes this type of training a lot more interesting.
A traditional set-up would have you doing a predetermined number of sets, with each of those having a predetermined number of reps. We’ve seen that for decades. It works, but it’s not perfect. (Chad Waterbury came up with a better plan of action, and you’ll see his influence below.)
The goal of performing strength circuits is to help build muscle and shred fat while gaining strength, and part of that is going to be neurological. Instead of just “lifting” the weights, I want you to focus on lifting explosively, and perfectly.
Each rep should be performed in the most explosive way possible. This helps to create greater stimulation for your nervous system, which will allow for the greatest recruitment of muscle fibers.
In order to make this effective, and in order to ensure that each set is challenging and stimulating without draining you, we’re going to disregard traditional set and rep schemes. Rather than focus on a conventionally structured workout of sets and reps, the focus is only on the total number of reps.
If this sounds a bit familiar, it should. Strength circuits draw inspiration from both Chad Waterbury and Christian Thibaudeau. To quote Chad, “Focus on the reps and let the sets take care of themselves.”
What you’ll do here is rotate through the chosen exercises until you’ve completed the desired number of reps.
Let’s break it down.

Workout Set-Up

Each workout will consist of two circuits, each comprised of 3-4 exercises. Between these two circuits will be something called the dynamic interrupt, which is a metabolic enhancement circuit (more on that below).
First, let’s talk about how to create individual strength circuits, as well as a complete workout.

Exercise Selection

This method is best suited to using big, compound, multi-joint movements. This is especially true for the first circuit. For the second circuit, if you’d like to throw in one isolation movement, that’s fine.

Individual Workouts

Every workout will ideally have one of each:

  • Hip/hamstring dominant leg exercise
  • Quad dominant leg exercise
  • Horizontal pushing movement
  • Horizontal pulling movement
  • Vertical pulling movement
  • Vertical pushing movement

Individual Circuits

Each circuit should have at least one lower body movement, at least one upper-body pulling movement, and at least one upper-body pressing movement. As long as those three are covered, you can be creative as to which movement planes you work in what order.

The Details

Let’s say that you’ve chosen to set up a circuit with dumbbell push presses, bentover rows, front squats, and weighted pull-ups.
You’d first perform as many reps as you could on the dumbbell push press. After that, perform as many bentover rows as you can. Then perform as many front squats as you can. Finally, you’d perform as many weighted pull-ups as possible.
You simply cycle through the exercises until you’ve completed all of the prescribed reps, regardless of how many sets it takes.
You’ll probably complete the total prescribed reps for one of the exercises before the others. That’s fine. Just alternate the remaining exercises back and forth.
Once you’ve completed all of the total reps for each exercise in the circuit, move on to the next segment of the workout.

Total Training Volume

Instead of thinking about the sets, simply focus on a total number of workout reps to gauge your volume. Ideally, a workout will have between 210 and 250 total reps.
If you’re going over that, you’re either using weight that’s too light (and therefore setting your total reps too high), or doing too many exercises. As a rule of thumb, 250 total reps is the upper limit.

Parameters for Selecting Rep Goals

Selecting the total reps on an exercise is a personal thing. Some people like to go very heavy on squats, so they’ll adjust the reps to be lower. Or perhaps you find that your chest generally responds better to higher reps. You might set your total reps to allow for that, and therefore use less weight.
The main thing is that your rep range for any given movement is between 20-35. Any less and you simply aren’t getting enough stimulation; any more and you’re going too light for this to be a “strength circuit.”

Parameters for Selecting Load

The idea is for this to be strength training; the weight must be heavy. This requires us to have some guidelines for selecting a work-set weight and knowing when to increase it.
The chart below will give you some guidelines for selecting a starting weight based on how many total reps you’ve chosen for a given exercise (not the set – the exercise.)

Total Reps Load
20 Begin with a weight you think you can lift 3-5 times. If you can complete 6 or more reps on your first set, go a little heavier. If you can only complete 2 or fewer reps on your first set, go lighter. 
25 Begin with a weight you can lift 4-6 times. If you can get 6 or more reps your first set, increase the weight. If you complete only 3 or fewer reps on your first set, reduce the weight a little.
30 Begin with a weight you think you can lift 6-8 times. If you can get 9 or more reps your first set, increase the weight. If you complete 4 reps or fewer on your first set, reduce the weight.
35 Begin with a weight you can lift 7-9 times. If you can complete 10 reps or more on your first set, increase the weight. If you can complete only 8 reps or fewer, reduce the weight.

Enter the Dynamic Interrupt

The Dynamic Interrupt was originally intended as a way to increase conditioning with athletes. The side effect? Rapid fat loss! I particularly like dynamic interrupts for strength circuits.
After your last set of a prescribed circuit (i.e. when you’ve finished every rep for every exercise), try the Dynamic Interrupt. It’s a series of bodyweight exercises that helps to increase heart rate and burn additional fat by making the workout more metabolic.
The lower rep range of the strength training is offset by the activity of the Dynamic Interrupt, and the fat-burning effect becomes even more profound.
Exercises are done for as many reps as possible in a given timeframe. The total work time of your Dynamic Interrupt should be 180 seconds or less.

Exercise Selection for the Dynamic Interrupt

Exercises for the DI can really be anything from jumping rope to jumping jacks to pushing a Prowler. The only real consideration is that you don’t want to choose exercises that will inhibit performance on the second circuit.
For example, if you’ve selected the bench press as one of your exercises on the second circuit, don’t select 75 seconds of as many push-ups as you can complete. Just choose movements that won’t interfere with what’s to come.

Sample Workout

Try this workout and see your results – and your strength – increase drastically.

Exercise Type of Movement Plane, Dominance Sets Total Reps
A1) Dumbbell Push Press Upper Body Push Vertical Vary 30
A2) Bentover Barbell Row Upper Body Pull Horizontal Vary 25
A3) Front Squat Lower Body Quad Dominant Vary 35
A4) Weighted Pull-Up Upper Body Pull Vertical Vary 20
Rest 15-30 seconds between exercises. When you finish your circuit, rest 45-60 seconds. Cycle through until you complete all reps for all exercises. Then, without rest, proceed immediately to the Dynamic Interrupt.

Dynamic Interrupt

Exercise Reps
1) Burpees As many as possible in 75 seconds
2) Mountain Climbers As many as possible in 45 seconds
Perform burpees, then mountain climbers, with minimal rest in between. When you’ve finished the mountain climbers, rest 2 minutes and proceed to circuit B.
Exercise Type of Movement Plane, Dominance Sets Total Reps
B1) Deadlift Lower Body Hip/Ham Dominant Vary 20
B2) Low-Incline DB Bench Press Upper Body Push Horizontal Vary 35
B3) High Pull Upper Body Pull Vertical Vary 30
B4) Alternating Barbell Lunges Upper Body Pull Quad Dominant Vary 30 (15/leg)
Rest 15-30 seconds between exercises. When you finish your circuit, rest 45-60 seconds. Cycle through until you complete all reps for all exercises.

Spend Calories, Save Mass

Lifting heavy weight requires a great deal of energy, so strength training is generally calorically expensive. In addition, because we’ve set things up in a circuit, the pace of the workout is much faster and fat loss increases.
Try this method one day a week during your diet program and watch your fat loss accelerate as you hold on to strength and mass!


Fighting Hormones with Hormones

NOTE:  If you have not yet read yesterday’s article, Three Hormones You MUST Address for Fast Fat Loss, do that now by clickingHERE (page opens in a new window).  You first need to fully understand the information in that article to fully grasp today’s content.
Once you’ve got that done, proceed below:
As I’ve covered previously, when you are breaking through a fat loss plateau or trying to get to the Final Phase of leanness, things get a bit murkier than they do with traditional fat loss.
Rather than dieting excessively in order to create a Calorie deficit, we seek to enter into energy debt by way of intelligently designed training protocols.  In addition, keeping energy intake high ensures that leptin levels don’t drop and throw another hormonal monkey wrench into the machinery.
Because, as we know from yesterday’s article, when you’re getting very lean or you’ve hit a plateau, fat loss is not just about Calories in vs Calories out–it’s about your hormonal environment and the way that affects fat storage, and thereby fat loss.
When you’ve lost the first 20 or 30 or whatever pounds, you’ve lost the “easy” fat.  What you’ll notice about your body is that you’re now holding fat specifically in your trouble areas; and those trouble areas are determined by your specific hormonal environment.
If you’ve been following along, by now you know that it’s not just about energy debt or cardio or to a lesser extent diet (although all of those things do factor in quite a bit, obviously). 
When your fat loss has stalled and you’re trying to break through that wall, or when you’re trying to rid yourself of those last stubborn 5-10 pounds, it’s a hormonal battle.
And there is only one way to win: fight hormones with hormones.
We’ve established that there are three specific hormones that cause the three most common types of regional fat storage.
As a quick recap:
1. Estrogen – the female sex hormone responsible for lower body fat storage patterns.
2. Insulin – Or rather, insulin resistance; this nasty little dude heavily influences fat storage in the love handle and lower back area.
3. Cortisol – the appropriately dubbed stress hormone is part of the reason you’ve got more flab than ab.
Those are your enemies.
Now, I want to talk to you about how you can actually increase the production of other hormones that offset the above “bad” hormones–through the manipulation of training methods.
In this corner…
Estrogen vs. Testosterone
Now that we’ve established (again, with apologies to the ladies) that estrogen is the main reason lower body fat storage occurs, we need to know how to work around that.
Well, how else would you combat estrogen but with testosterone?  In all honesty, when if comes to fat loss and muscle gain,testosterone good, estrogen bad.
It’s for that reason that professional athletes, bodybuilders and the juicers down at the Jersey Shore use illicit steroids that are derivatives of testosterone. 
Of course, that’s not an option for us–and certainly not desirable. 
Instead, we are going to increase testosterone levels naturally, through training.  Not only will this increase the net fat-burning effect of all exercises, but more appropriate to our purposes here, it will also facilitate in getting rid of lower body fat.
I should mention something here to alleviate any concerns:  it is NOT possible to produce a detrimental amount of testosterone through training.  So ladies, you don’t have to worry about any masculinizing effects.
Instead, training produces what we would term a ‘high’ amount of testosterone from a physiological perspective, relative to what your body normally produces.  For the guys, this means that such training will help you put on a bit more muscle–just not steroid muscle.
Got it?
Okay, moving on. 
At this point, I know you’re thinking, ‘all right Roman, get to the point, what do I do?”
Great question.  And the answer is Density Training.
Training in a way that seeks to increase training density is one of the best ways to spur your body to produce and release more testosterone, which will (obviously) help you lose that estrogen related fat storage.
Training density can be defined as the amount of work you do in a given amount of time during a training session.  If you want to increase density, you can do more work (sets, reps, or both) in the same amount of time, or do the same amount of work and decrease the time in which you do it.
However, I’ve come up with a method of density training that is specific to radical fat loss, and this means that not only will you produce the testosterone necessary to mitigate your regional fat issue, but you’ll also lose more fat on the whole.
Pretty cool, eh?
So here is how we do it.  As an example, let’s pick 3 exercises: the overhead press, the dumbbell row, and the squat.
Setting these up in a circuit fashion, you perform them one after another with little rest in between. 
Sounds like just about any circuit training protocol, right?
Instead of having a set number of reps, we’re going to be forming each of these exercises for TIME–you simply have to do as many as you can in a given time period.
To make it easy, let’s say you did each of the above exercises for 30 seconds.  In performing such a circuit, your results might look like this:
Overhead Press:  25 pound dumbbells for 20 reps
DB Row: 40 pound dumbbells for 18 reps
Squat: 100 pound barbell for 22 reps
Not too shabby.  Now, HERE is where it gets crazy.
We’re going to take advantage of some cool things that happen in the body; triggers that happen which will make you more efficient and more capable.
To do that, we’re going to INCREASE the weight by 10-20% and try to do MORE reps.
Does that seem impossible?  It isn’t.  Due to neuromuscular junction and neural activation, in almost ALL cases, you’ll be able to do just that.
Your second attempt at that circuit might look like this:
Overhead Press:  30 pound dumbbells for 23 reps
DB Row: 50 pound dumbbells for 20 reps
Squat: 120 pound barbell for 25 reps
I know you’re having trouble believing that outcome is even possible, much less common, but I implore you–try it for yourself!
Density training is fun, challenge-based, burns a heck of a lot of fat, and–most importantly–is one of the best training modalities around for increasing testosterone production and release.
Training for increased workout density will help you shed stubborn lower body fat, and as we’ve mentioned more fat on the whole.
Insulin Resistance vs. IGF-1
As I mentioned in the video above, insulin resistance is combatted very nicely by a hormones called IGF-1, or Insulin-like Growth Factor one.
Producing extra IGF-1 via training will help you (and me!) improve insulin sensitivity and begin to rid ourselves of love handle and lower back fat.
We established yesterday that insulin resistance is very common, particular in people who were previously overweight; so if you have lost some fat and you’re now struggling to lose a bit more, and that fat happens to be in your love handles, I’m willing to bet you’re suffering from some degree of insulin resistance.
In order to get rid of that fat, we have to do fat burning workouts (obviously) and increase insulin sensitivity to the greatest degree that we can through the training effect.  To that end, we need to employ what I call Dynamic Training.
Dynamic training is pretty much the over-arching concept of how I design fat loss training programs–it consists of using fast-paced movements to teach the body how to move more efficiently.  Combination movements, like the squat-to-press I demonstrated in the above video are also brought to bare.
Because this style of training is extremely expensive in terms of energy (Calorie) demand, by and large dynamic training is excellent as a general fat loss modality. 
Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that utilizing these types exercises and setting them up in a non-competing circuit fashion under the dynamic training umbrella is an incredible way to produce IGF-1–and that is one of the most effective methods to mitigate insulin sensitivity.
Take it from someone who knows; nothing is better for combating love handle fat than increasing insulin sensitivity–and one of the most effective ways to do that is to produce more IGF-1 through dynamic training.
Cortisol vs. Growth Hormone
And now we come to our final bout of the evening–the main event, as it were.
We have touched on cortisol a bit, so I won’t rehash that too much.  Suffice it to say that the higher your cortisol levels are, the more fat you’re going to be storing on your belly.  Given that fact, it stands to reason that if you store fat primarily in the abdominal region, you’re a victim of high cortisol.
Never fear, though: Growth Hormone is here.
Also known as the “fountain of youth”, growth hormone is the single most effective compound your body can produce to affect both fat loss and muscle gain.  The more you produce, the faster you’ll lose fat and build muscle.  It’s just as simple as that.
Now, in addition to that awesome little fact, growth hormone is going to whoop cortisol’s ass and help you burn belly fat. 
Also, you’ve probably heard that one of the ways to reduce your cortisol levels is to get more sleep.  That’s something you hear on nearly all the medical TV shows.  What you don’t hear is the reason.
You see, sleeping is one of the main ways by which your body produces growth hormone.  Or, saying it another way, while you’re asleep is your body’s primary opportunity to produce growth hormone. 
And, as I stated previously, growth hormone is one of the main hormones that reduces the effects of cortisol.
Sleep more and you’ll produce more GH.  Produce more GH and you’ll have less cortisol.  Therefore, sleeping more results in lower cortisol levels.  Got it?
Of course, I’m not suggesting you can just sleep your way past a fat loss plateau; although getting more sleep does help.  I’m merely illustrating the relationship between cortisol and growth hormone.
Which leads us to the production of growth hormone as it relates to training.
While nearly all forms of exercise produce both growth hormone and cortisol, some types are better than others.  Cortisol, as I mentioned in the previous article, is produced heavily in long duration cardio sessions–so let’s not do that.
Instead, we’re going to utilize a style of training that produces more growth hormone.
To do that, we’re going to employ a training method known as Lactic Acid Training.
In order to get to the growth hormone, you must first produce lactic acid.
Lactic acid, by way of a definition, is a byproduct of the chemical reactions that take place during exercise.  This substance is wildly irritating to the nerves, and your body responds.
Think of lactic acid as sort of a type of oil igniting fires as it flows through you–your body will call the fire department to put those fires out.  And your body will do that by dousing them with soothing, cooling growth hormone.
Okay, maybe I’m being a little simplistic with my metaphor, but it gives you a general idea.
In any event, we must structure training to produce the most lactic acid possible.  And, because lactic acid is primarily produce in the concentric (positive) phase of anaerobic exercise, we extend that period, and decrease the eccentric period.
What that means is that we lift the weight very very slowly, and lower it very very quickly so that we can have a fast turn around.
As an example, if you’re doing a squat, you’ll descend to the bottom the squat very quickly (drop down fast, but still controlling the weight somewhat) and then lift the weight sloooowly, oh so sloooowly–over a period of 4-6 seconds. 
This will create tremendous amounts of lactic acid, which will intern send GH production into overdrive.
I must mention that training in this way necessitates the use of lighter weights than you normally would on any given exercise. Therefore, if you’re interested in lactic acid training, I suggest you reduce the weight you’d use on any exercise by about 30% in order to be both safe and effective.
With traditional training methods, you’d lift the weight pretty quickly and lower it slowly.  Here, we’re doing the opposite, in order to produce the most lactic acid possible, which will then lead to a corresponding increase in the production of growth hormone.
This will result in not only reducing cortisol, but also reducing cortisol related fat storage in your belly.
On top of it all, it’s great for fat loss in general!
Closing Thoughts
Although the battle against hormone-related fat storage can be a tough one, it’s certainly easier when you yourself have hormones on your side–tougher, stronger, better looking hormones!
Say goodbye to cortisol and belly fat with increase growth hormone production via lactic acid training.
Make lower-body fat (and man boobs) along with estrogen issues history through density training.
And combat the ol’ love handles and insulin resistance with dynamic training and IGF-1 production.
With Final Phase Fat Loss, stubborn becomes easy.  Slow becomes fast.  And it’s all because every single workout within the Final Phase systems has been specifically created to combat the hormonal reasons you’re NOT losing fat.
Are you ready to start losing fat again?  Are you ready to finally see your abs?  Then stay tuned, because on Friday I’m going to tell you how you can win a FREE copy of the entire 7-component Final Phase Fat Loss system.  In the meantime, more content coming your way!
The finish line is just around the corner…
Keep going strong,


Three Hormones You MUST Address for Fast Fat Loss

It seems like most fat loss programs focus on one main thing: to burn fat, you have to expend more energy than you take in.
Such a focus makes sense, of course, because if there is a universal truth to fat loss, that’s it.
This is what we call “energy balance.”  In order to lose fat, you have to create what we call “energy debt” or “energy deficit” –that is, eliminate the balance and instead be on the negative side of the balance scales.
That works very well for “beginning” fat, of course.  However, success doesn’t last forever.
As anyone who’s ever been on a diet and exercise program of any kind can tell you, at first it’s pretty smooth sailing.  Eat less, do more, lose fat.
And then it stops—and usually, stops suddenly, as those same people can also tell you.
Of course, the first instinct people have is a very natural one: to simply do more of what was bringing them success in the first place. 
So they eat even less and do even more.
And…have no results.
You see, what these people fail to realize (and what most fat loss programs fail to address) is that:

After a certain point, simple energy deficit
no longer covers the tab.

It becomes more about what type of deficit. Speaking generally, you actually have to eat closer to maintenance calorie levels (instead of far below) and expend more Calories through exercise.
Even then, things don’t always happen as quickly as you want.
You see, once you’ve hit a fat loss plateau—or when you’re trying to lose the last few pounds, like I was when I was dieting for the beach house—fat loss becomes a bit less about energy balance a lot more about hormones.
Some hormones, such as leptin, actually control the majority of your general fat loss efforts and all the factors thereof: appetite, satiety, “starvation mode.” However, assuming you’re eating enough and trying to create an energy deficit through training, leptin isn’t the issue.
In Final Phase Fat Loss, you’re never on a severe diet, so you don’t have to worry about leptin.
There are other hormones which are a bit more insidious in their effects on your physique.  They don’t just determine IF you gain fat—they determine where you gain it, and whether you’re able to lose it from those areas.
Those “problem” areas on your body are there for a reason.
“Problem areas” are created by your hormonal environment, and it’s your hormones that force your body to have particular fat storage patterns.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the three most common types of regional fat storage, and the hormones that cause them.

Back Got Back: Low Body Fat Storage

One of the most common types of fat storage that we see in women is the “pear shape” –fairly thin on top but heavy on the bottom (and IN the bottom, if you know what I mean).
This is so common that we often refer to a “pear shape” as a body type.  This is true to an extent, but this type of fat storage is also heavily dependent on the female sex hormone estrogen.  This is one reason why you see this type of fat storage primarily in women.
High levels of estrogen are awesome for enjoying Grey’s Anatomy and makin’ babies, but terriblefor fat loss, which makes it obvious that women usually have more trouble losing fat than men.
However, anyone—male or female—with high estrogen levels will have trouble losing fat,especially from the lower body.   In essence, the higher your estrogen levels, the greater the likelihood you’ll store fat in your lower body; mainly in the hips and thighs.
And yes, it IS possible for men to have high estrogen levels.  Unfortunately, outside of having to deal with a declined rate of fat loss and lower body fat, these guys ALSO have to deal with the ignominy of man-boobs. 
On the whole, estrogen related fat storage is a pain in the ass (get it!?) but it is not completely unmanageable.  You see, you can offset this phenomenon with certain types of training. 
In addition to helping you lose fat stored in the lower body, these specifically designed workouts will also be great for fat loss in general.  Essentially, they’re great for burning calories and for shedding lower body fat through estrogen management—combine the two and the result is rapid fat loss, with a heavy concentration on lower body fat stores.
No worries, ladies (and gents!), I’m here to help.

Muffin Tops:  No Love for the Love Handles

Probably my least favorite incarnation of regional fat storage is love handle and lower back fat.  This is, of course, because I personally suffer from such.
Even when I am in lean condition—I’m talking shredded pretty much everywhere else—
I store some fat in my love handles and lower back.  It used to take me an extra 3 weeks to get rid of it.
The reason I tend to store fat this way is because of how my body reacts to certain hormones, and because of the effect those hormones have on fat storage.
When I was a fat kid and ate lots and lots of goodies, I screwed by my endocrine system a wee bit.  Nothing too serious, but a decade of eating rapidly digesting carbs followed by…well, followed by more rapidly digesting carbs made my insulin spike and crash and spike and crash all over the place.
On top of making me fat in that immediacy, it also completely had a pretty negative effect on the way my body processes and handles insulin period.
The degree to which you are able to process and respond to glucose (sugar) in your body is called insulin sensitivity.  The higher this is, the easier and more efficiently your body utilizes carbohydrates for energy, and the less like you are to store carbs as fat. 
On the other hand, insulin resistance is the opposite: you don’t deal well with carbs, and anything other than a low carb diet pretty much means you’re gonna hang on to some fat.
And, to make matters worse, as I mentioned previously, there are regional effects.  It’s been shown that people who store fat in the love handles are generally very insulin resistant—and therefore it can be reasoned that insulin resistance leads to love handle and lower back fat storage.
Which means, of course, that insulin resistance makes it very hard to lose fat from that area as well.
I’m sure many of you out there who have been heavy before are experiencing much the same problems that I used to have.
The good news is that insulin resistance (and the resulting regional fatness) can be mitigated with certain types of training.  For example, with careful planning and selection of exercises, you can start to whittle away at love handle and lower back fat while you increase insulin sensitivity. 
The better news is that I’ve figured out a specific series of training sessions that will do just that.

The One, The Only:  Belly Fat

Without question, the most common type of regional fat storage is belly fat. If this isn’t you, it’s someone you know. 
Abdominal fat storage obviously has a lot to do with your diet and overall body fat level; that should be obvious but it never hurts to touch on it.
Outside of that, it’s hormones baby, hormones. 
The one we’re talking about here is cortisol.  This hormone has been in the media a lot the past few years, and I’ve talked about it a bit, so by now you know that cortisol is sometimes called a “stress” hormone.
That moniker is more appropriate than you know.
Basically, that means your body will produce cortisol (and encourage belly fat storage) under conditions of nearly any type of stress—both emotionaland physical.  So to combat cortisol, it’s not enough to just get more sleep or stop drunk dialing your ex-girlfriend.  (Although that helps, I’ve heard.)
Instead, it is of far greater effect to combat cortisol through resistance training.
Now, if you’re observant, you may have noticed what seems to be a contradiction.
As I said, cortisol is also produced through physical stress.  In fact, training is actually one of the primary means through which your body will produce this sneaky little hormone.  Additionally, because cortisol has been linked to overtraining and has a catabolic (muscle wasting) effect, producing too much of it through training is certainly counterproductive.
It’s important to note, however, that long duration cardio and extended lifting sessions are what produce the most cortisol, and I always recommend against those.
Instead, short, intense training sessions using a particular type of training modality will help to counteract the effects of cortisol; both the muscle-wasting effect, and the cortisol related belly fat storage.
I’ll share that with you tomorrow.
In fact, tomorrow I’ll be sharing another entire article with you.  In that article, I’ll teach you how to fight hormones with hormones.  I’ll show you how to use specific types of training to combat the nefarious three hormonal nemeses by producing hormones that offset the effects of estrogen, insulin and cortisol.
Be on the look-out for “How to Conquer Your Hormonal Nemeses” tomorrow.  In the meantime, if you did not read The Final Phase Fat Loss “Origin” Story, make SURE you go do that right now by clicking HERE.  It’s the only reason Final Phase Fat Loss exists, and I can guarantee you’ll be able to relate to the exact position I was in (and overcame) when prepping for my own “big event”.
Keep going strong,

The Five Principles of Radical Fat Loss

The Five Principles of Radical Fat Loss

Email Number 54 — More of the Same

“Hey Roman. I want to get cut, and I know that’s your department. I’m doing 5/3/1 and seeing pretty decent strength gains. I want to drop about 25 pounds in about eight weeks, though. How can I modify the program and what diet should I use?”
My mouse pointer hovered over the “delete” button for a second, but only as a momentary joke at my own expense. (I answer every e-mail I receive.) And so I typed the same response I’d typed 53 times before:
“If you do nearly everything right, get your diet perfect, and do cardio both frequently and intensely, you can lose fat on nearly any sensible weight training plan.”
Then I gave him some specific instructions.
And although I’ve had a lot of practice answering the question, I just wish I understood it better.
Why on earth would someone want to lose fat that way?
Sure, it’s possible, but certainly not optimal. And I’m all about optimal.

A Better Way

I have five principles for fat loss programming—which I’ll share with you below—and none are really that complicated. Even less complicated is the over-arching theory of how I design plans for extreme fat loss. It’s the Big Idea, if you will. Here it is:
All facets of the program must be geared toward fat loss.
Now, we’re talking radical fat loss, none of this namby-pamby I-just-want-to-lose-a-few-pounds stuff. If you want rapid results, it isn’t enough to modify your diet and throw in some extra cardio. Heck, if it were that simple there’d be a lot more people walking around with appreciable muscle and visible abs.
Extreme fat loss is what I deal with every day. My clients want to get lean in the shortest time possible, so my programs are designed to do just that. For this to be possible, a complete approach is important. In keeping with the Big Idea I mentioned above, this means all aspects of programming—diet, cardiovascular training, supplementation, and weight training—need to be geared toward that specific goal.

Roman’s Recommendations

Diet — Finding the exact balance of macronutrients that’ll help you be successful is tricky. Not only are things highly individual, it’s important to recognize that no calorie formula is perfect. That being said, in order to achieve radical fat loss with my clients I need to start somewhere. To that end, I give general recommendations to set calories below maintenance.
To determine maintenance caloric intake, I use the following formula:
Current Body Fat
Caloric Intake
17Kcal per pound of LBM
16Kcal per pound of LBM
15Kcal per pound of LBM
14Kcal per pound of LBM
22.1% or above
13Kcal per pound of LBM
The obvious reason for the structure is rate of fat loss. The more fat you have on your body, the faster you can lose it, and the more of it you can lose without sacrificing LBM (lean body mass). Therefore, you can consume fewer calories and still have a pretty decent rate of fat loss without really affecting the metabolic processes responsible for fat loss and muscle gain.
As for macronutrients, protein is set at between 1.15 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. There really is no magic number. As long as you’re getting a little bit above one gram per pound of LBM, you’ll be fine. The purpose of having a range is to allow for some individual customization, the determining factor for which will be satiety. Simply put, if you start low and find that you’re still hungry, increase protein intake up to as high as 1.5g per pound of LBM. This allows you flexibility with meal size and food choices.
In terms of carbs, I limit intake to .5 grams per pound of LBM if you’re “carb intolerant” or insulin resistant. On the other hand, you can go as high as .75 grams per pound of LBM if you handle carbs well.
The difference in your total caloric intake is to be made up by fat. Of that fat, I recommend that you take one gram of fish oil per body fat percentage point. That is, if you are 10 percent body fat, take 10 grams. I stole this recommendation from TMUSCLE Bodybuilding expert Christian Thibaudeau a while back, and it’s been working out phenomenally.
The main thing here is you don’t need a radical reduction of calories to allow for radical reduction of body fat. While starting 400 calories in the hole is not unnoticeable as far as satiety and energy levels, neither is it extreme. For fat loss without sacrificing muscle, it is by far more efficacious to create (or expand) a deficit via increased activity level.

Cardio — High Intensity Interval Training (preferably sprints or jump rope work) or complexes at least once per week. In most cases, I have clients do one HIIT session and one complex session. I consider complexes cardio, not weight training. (For a detailed article about smart complexes, check out this article.)

Supplementation — Flameout™, FA3™, and HOT-ROX® Extreme.

Weight Training — First, why is weight training imperative for fat loss results? I’ve got three reasons:
• Greater caloric expenditure than most cardio over the same time frame
• Longer elevation of metabolic processes involved with fat loss
• Better for retaining your muscle, which keeps the basal metabolic rate higher
So with the basics covered, let’s get more specific about how to set up the perfect fat loss weight training routine.

1) Training Sessions Must be Frequent

If you want to lose fat fast, you need to do work and you need to do it often. In almost all cases, it’s more effective to spread your activity over a greater period of time (while still allowing for rest). For fat loss I like training twice per day, splitting it between weight training and cardio.
Of course, training twice per day is not possible for some people, in which case I allow them to do the weight training and cardio back-to-back, as long as they ensure the weights come first.
The high level of frequency ensures a consistently elevated metabolic rate, a tremendous and constant surge of EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) and the resultant boost in the rate of energy expenditure that accompanies those things.
For the sake of demonstration, here’s an actual 3-week schedule for one of my online coaching clients, whose goal was to lose 18 pounds of fat in eight weeks (it wound up taking six weeks).
Week A
Sprint HIIT Workout
20 minutes steady Jump Rope Work
No Weights
Weight Workout 1 followed by 15 min Jump Rope
Bodyweight Training
Weight Workout 1 followed by 15 Min Jump Rope
Weight Workout 2 followed by 10 min Treadmill Walk
Weight Workout 3
Week B
Weight Workout 2
Weight Workout 3
Weight Workout 1 immediately followed by HIIT Sprint Workout
Bodyweight Training followed by 15 min Treadmill Walk
20 min HIIT Jump Rope Work
Treadmill Walk
Week C
Any style of HIIT Cardio
Weight Workout 2
Bodyweight Training followed by 10 min Jump Rope Work
Weight Workout 3
Weight Workout 1
20 Minutes Steady Jump Rope Work
HIIT Sprint Workout
All told, this client is training 23 times in 21 days, or an average of 7.6 times per week.
In fact, this client is working out as often as five times in a 60-hour period! It sounds crazy, but when you look closely at the schedule you’ll see that stretches of back-to-back training are followed up by adequate rest time.
If that still seems like too much, read on.

2) Training Sessions Must be Short

When designing weight training programs for fat loss, it’s important to remember that you’ll be starting each workout while in a moderate energy deficit created by your diet. Each workout is intended to increase that deficit to the greatest degree possible without killing you.
Long training sessions (anything over 45 minutes) are unsuitable to radical fat loss programs. Given the reduced calories and the structure of the workouts, you’d create a recipe for overtraining, injury, and stagnation. I’m certainly a proponent of pushing hard, but there’s a fine line between well-intentioned intensity and stupidity, and that line can be defined by how long you train while on a fat loss program.
In addition, based on what I’ve seen with hundreds of clients, the level of performance drop-off is high enough toward the end of 45-minute sessions that adding in extra time is essentially pointless. Unless you have an extraordinarily high work capacity (in which case, why the hell are you fat and in need of radical programming?), 35-40 minutes is enough.
Don’t believe me? Wait till you try the workout I designed for you a little later.
As I mentioned earlier, since the frequency of training sessions is high, short sessions will still provide enough stimulus to get the job done.

3) Training Sessions Must be Fast-Paced

One of the least talked about aspects of training is workout density, which is the amount of work you do in a given time frame. The greater your density, the greater your caloric expenditure.
To that end, the simplest way to increase density is to shorten rest periods. I generally dislike rest periods, and certainly don’t ever prescribe long ones even for most of my hypertrophy programs, but for fat loss it’s absolutely necessary to keep rest periods short and sweet, which will make the session itself short and miserable.
Here’s how to set it up:
Exercise Types
Rest Period*
Between Competing Upper Body Muscle Groups
Chest and Shoulders
20 or less
Between Non-Competing “Large” Upper Body Muscle Groups
Chest and Back
15 or less
Between Non-Competing “Small” Upper Body Muscle Groups
Biceps and Triceps
5 or less
Between Non-Competing “Mixed-Size” Upper Body Muscle Groups
Chest and Biceps
10 or less
Between Straight Sets of Squats or Deadlifts
Squats, Deadlift (bilateral only)
Between Squats or Deadlifts Alternated with Lower Body Exercise
Squat and Reverse Lunges
30 or less
Between Squats or Deadlifts Alternated with Upper Body Exercise
Deadlift and Bench Press
25 or less
Between Non-Competing Lower Body Exercises
Lunges and Calf Raises
20 or less
Between Lower Body Exercise Alternated with “Small” Upper Body Muscle Groups
Lunges and Biceps
10 or less
Between Lower Body Exercise Alternated with “Large” Upper Body Muscle Groups
Romanian Deadlift and Chest
25 or less
Between Straight Sets of Explosive Exercises
Cleans, Jump Squats, Push Press
Between Explosive Exercises Alternated with “Small” Movements
Cleans and Curls
15 or less
Between Explosive Exercises Alternated with “Large” Movements
Push Press and Lunge
25 or less
*In Seconds
These guidelines are both broad and advanced. Use them as a starting point and try to cut down where you can. If your conditioning sucks, you’ll probably have to add some time to all of the above. It also goes without saying you’ll need to drop the weight in a lot of your exercises.
Additionally, I’ll say that even for my advanced clients, these numbers are really only applicable for the first half of the workout. After that, we generally need to add a few seconds.

4) Workouts Must Center Around the Most Effective Exercises for Fat Loss

Not all exercises are created equal. Just as a deadlift is better than a leg curl for building overall mass in the hamstrings, some exercises are wholly superior for fat loss.
In my programs, we base all of our fat loss workouts around A-list exercises, and then add on to those. Speaking generally, my fat loss workouts consist of two to four circuits, with each one of those circuits being comprised of four to six exercises. At least two of those exercises will be from the A-list.
Without question, the top exercises for fat loss are:

These exercises serve as the foundation of each circuit, with two or more A-list exercises making an appearance. The remaining exercises are ancillary compound movements, the occasional isolation movement, and usually at least one anterior or posterior core exercise.
Here’s an example of a single day of training in one of my fat loss programs:
 In keeping with the above schedule, this would constitute “Weight Workout 1.” There would be two other unique sessions in a given training week.
Circuit A
 — Perform A1, A2, A3, A4 and A5 sequentially, resting as prescribed between exercises and 30 seconds between circuits. Perform this circuit twice. After your second circuit, rest 60 seconds and proceed to Circuit B.
A1) Push Press
25 or less
A2) Alternating Forward Lunges
15 per side
15 or less
A3) Narrow Grip Pull-up
25 or less
A3) Side Plank
25* per side
5 or less
A4) Swiss Ball Rollouts
Circuit B
— Perform B1, B2, B3 and B4 sequentially, resting as prescribed between exercises. Perform this circuit once, rest 90 seconds, and proceed to Circuit C.
B1) Bent-over Barbell Row
25 or less
B2) Stiff Legged Deadlift
15 or less
B3) Jumping Lunges
15 per side
5 or less
B4) Bulgarian Split Squat
10-12 per side
Circuit C
— Perform C1, C2, C3, C4 and C5 sequentially, resting as prescribed between exercises and 45 seconds rest between circuits. Perform this circuit 3 times.
C1) Step-up onto Bench
12 per side
15 or less
C2) Dips on Bench
10 or less
C3) Jumping Jacks
5 or less
C4) Bent-over Lateral Raises
10-12 per side
10 or less
C5) Superman Hold
*In Seconds
Now, what you’ll see is that each circuit is short, fast-paced, and intense. The key is to move through it as quickly as possible with good form, all while using weight that you’d find challenging in terms of both strength and strength endurance.

5) Multiple Training Variables Must be Manipulated During a Single Training Week

This is the twist that makes my programs for radical fat loss a bit more fun than any others I’ve tried. And, to be honest, I think it makes them more effective. The reason for the difference is a long view of training from the perspective of someone who has pretty much done it all ways.
Most fat loss gurus will say the goal of the programming isn’t to increase strength, or endurance, or how many pushups you can do. That’s all minor stuff, and I agree.
The primary goal is to lose fat fast. However, it’s important to me that the trainee finishes the program better than they started. Getting lean is primary, and I insist that all thoughts of strength and hypertrophy be placed firmly on the back burner.
However, I make damn sure I don’t send anyone away weaker than they came to me, or with less lean body mass.
Rotating training styles — assuming they’re all designed with the same ideas about overall programming kept in mind — has two purposes.
First, it allows you to lose fat faster because you’re just getting hit with multiple types of stimulus all the time; it’s hard to really adapt to that. The lack of adaptation is what increases the rate of fat loss over other programs.
I hate to call on training clichés and bodybuilding colloquialisms like “keep the body guessing,” but the reality of the situation is that staying ahead of the adaptation curve is better for progress. For that reason, I usually add in a secondary lifting protocol into the program. In the above example, it was bodyweight training. By doing this, we keep the training fresh and the client motivated, while concurrently speeding up progress.
Secondly, I like rotating styles during a week because it allows me the opportunity to keep an eye on factors that will be important at the conclusion of the program. Conventional fat loss programs are usually a bit in line with what I’ve listed above, at least in theory if not in actual style and execution. The problem with such programs is that they fail to address strength in any real way. More specifically, the fast-paced training inherent in fat loss workouts typically dictates use of light weight in order to be effective.
Do you know what lifting only light weight while in a caloric deficit for six weeks does? It makes you really good at lifting light weight, and pretty awful at lifting heavy. And to me, that’s unacceptable.
Given that, at least one day per week is dedicated to lifting heavy (85-95 percent of 5RM) loads. This workout will still be fast-paced, intense and horrendously miserable, but it will keep you strong. As just about every gym rat worth his salt knows, heavy training is also vastly superior for holding on to lean body mass while dieting.
I’ve had discussions about this with a few other coaches who specialize in fat loss, and one argument I hear is that taking time off from the heavy weight during fat loss programs is actually good. They give me the same speech about how it’ll de-condition you, so you’ll experience more growth when you return to heavy lifting They dress this nonsense up with terms like super-compensation and over-reaching.
I call bullshit. To me, there is no benefit to getting weaker.
To stay strong while on a fat loss plan, lift heavy one day per week. Acceptable programs would include an abbreviated 5×5 workout or something with low reps and heavy weight using the Perfect Rep method.

Closing Thoughts

Forgive me for repeating myself, but I just gotta say it again:
All facets of the program must be geared toward fat loss.
I honestly begin each and every day hoping this message has gotten through to the world.
So let’s get your head right. If you’re going to go on a fat loss program, really .
That means for the next six weeks, you’re going to stop worrying about gaining muscle. You’re going to stop caring about the amount of weight you lift.
You’re going to focus on fat loss, but with the most comprehensive attention to your ultimate goal.
Will you gain muscle? Probably not. Will you get stronger? It’s possible, but unlikely. However, you’ll get extremely lean, extremely quickly. On top of that, you’ll walk away with exceptional conditioning, strength endurance, and some increased work capacity. When you resume training for size and strength, those increases will be of inestimable value for bringing your training—and your physique—to the next level.
If you follow my lead, I promise you’ll get lean without losing any muscle, and without turning into a weakened shadow of your former self.

The Five Principles of Radical Fat Loss
The Five Principles of Radical Fat LossWant to get shredded? Then every facet of your training should be geared for fat loss.
The Five Principles of Radical Fat LossThe pull-up. One of many A-List exercises.
The Five Principles of Radical Fat LossKeep the rest period between small non-competing muscle groups like triceps and biceps short.
The Five Principles of Radical Fat LossYou can’t expect to maintain your muscle if you use dinky weights.
The Five Principles of Radical Fat LossIf you want to get lean, you gotta get a little dirty.

About John Romaniello

The Five Principles of Radical Fat Loss

John Romaniello is a veteran in the business of making people pretty. From models to not-so model citizens, he delivers the requested results and unrequested self-aggrandizing stories of his video game heroics. In addition to his nerdery, John runs Roman Fitness Systems, LLC, a personal training and online coaching business that’s helping people all over the world get into good enough shape to feel comfortable posting naughty pictures on the Internet. You can check out his blog or send him anemail. (But please don’t be number 55.)

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