Everyone has different methods of training – these methods depend on the goals, circumstances, information, and resources available to the individual, time and a plethora of other factors. In this article, I will be outlining my training methods and diets throughout my recent journey.
During the last couple of weeks, I have had an enormous surge in free time. This is due to my academic year having finished; I took this as an opportunity to hunt for my body’s next level. I had two aims: to gain strength, but mainly, to lose fat. This is because I have only been bulking for the past 3-4 years, without putting in any real efforts into maintaining a shredded physique. I didn’t look fat, I actually managed to stay slim in terms of fat, but I did start putting out a belly over the last 6-9 months or so.
The first thing I established was that it was imperative for me to set a limit for my calories – I firmly believe that it is impossible to lose mass without being in a caloric deficit. This official study outlines, that regardless of methods, energy deficits alone are responsible for weight loss.
This led me to my next dietary conclusion: I was free to eat whatever I chose, as long as I abided by my caloric goal. And I did! There were many days where I chose to eat chocolate, pizza, treats and other foods that are generally considered unhealthy. Some of these foods were packed with calories, so in order to allow myself to satisfy my cravings, I would plan out these meals in advance. If a single pizza was enough to fulfill my caloric intake for the day, I would fast for the day up until dinner, and enjoy my pizza.
The only macro-nutrient I was worried about was my protein – during a caloric deficit, in order to avoid losing muscle mass, it is extremely important to maintain high protein intake. I didn’t explicitly track it, but I ate high calorie foods and meats almost daily. I would indubitably recommend mixing whole milk with whey-based protein powder to make some shakes.
Depending on the individual, the caloric deficit necessary will vary – women for example require less calories than men daily. Personally, at the time of this diet, I was a 19 year old man at about 178cm tall, weighing in at 82-83kg. I set my primary calorie goal to 1600 daily, and a secondary goal at 2100. I usually consume around 2500-3000 daily, so it seemed like cutting my intake to around half would be a good target.
Many fitness enthusiasts would agree that cardio is important for cutting weight. Cardiovascular training is the most efficient for burning calories, with running being the best for most calories burnt per hour.
However, as someone who did competitive swimming for 7 years, I guarantee that it is a much better exercise for cardio. Why? The reason isn’t calorie based – depending on the resources you examine; you will find multiple conclusions on running versus swimming on energy expenditure. Regardless of the reality, swimming is a much safer sport for the joints as there is no repetitive impact on the knees or ankles. Running daily can lead to several joint complications, whereas swimming daily is perfectly okay.
My personal method? Sprints. I will usually do 20 back-to-back rounds of 10 seconds sprinting and a 6 second light jog. I love this method as it is the least time consuming. Unfortunately, due to some knee injuries (don’t run daily, trust me) I was unable to do roadwork. So how did I cope? BJJ rolling of course! I attended BJJ classes at least four times a week and each of these classes involved a minimum of three 5-6 minute rounds of rolling. Moreover, I attended 1.5 hour open gym boxing sessions quite often, if I had the money, which I spent perfecting techniques on heavy bags.
This was more than enough to take care of my martial arts and cardio training, especially coupled with some drills and technique practice at home. So finally, what about resistance training?
For six days weekly, Monday to Saturday, I trained morning and evening. Sunday was the day of rest. Each day was dedicated to a specific muscle group, with both workouts being dedicated to hitting the group in divergent methods. I also aimed to have two days per week dedicated for each muscle group, although this wasn’t always possible.
I would always train 5-7 sets of each exercise I chose to do, with enough weight to handle the 3-5 rep range. I would also super set exercises for the same muscle group quite often. This was supposed to increase my strength. This extensive training combined with my daily 7g intake of Creatine, allowed me to work wonders (results in the conclusion). Here is an example of my chest workouts:
It was common for me to combine weighted resistance exercises with bodyweight exercises in all of my workouts. This was to keep my body guessing as to what was coming – the human body is the pinnacle of evolution. It is the perfect adaptation machine: every time your body becomes stronger, sheds fat, packs on or loses muscles, it is adapting to suit its specific conditions. Your job is to make sure you adapt your body for your conditions. Although, it is important to understand when and when it won’t adapt. If you train your chest the exact same way every time, then the body won’t adapt, and it won’t challenge itself.
Thus, I made a list of exercises that I was most proficient with, or enjoyed most for each muscle group, and rotated them with each workout. Lastly, I would like to clarify the reason I trained twice a day.
The idea was first given to me after a friend of my father’s outlined how he had heard gymnasts trained – twice a day at 60-85% intensity. I delved in a little deeper and found that old-school Bulgarian bodybuilders and strongmen would train 3-4 times daily, but with very little weight and resistance.
Being a Bulgarian myself, I decided to take some inspiration from old wisdom. Due to me training at 100% intensity every workout, there were definitely some unplanned rest days in which I could barely get up out of my bed. I had overtrained.
The results, however, were absolutely worthwhile, at least for me. My Bench Press moved from an 80kg one-rep max to 90kg. I used to rep 3-5 at 110-115kg on my strict deadlift, and I increased this to 130kg. Moreover, I lost 2kg of fat. This was all in the span of 5-6 weeks. I hope that this information will serve you in your future training and dieting regimes. Stay strong, stay disciplined.