Article written by Jace Derwin
Nearing the inevitable end summer, I feel I can get away writing about a hot-button issue that is widely frowned upon around these corners of the internetz. I’m going to write a bit about getting lean and mean (DUN DUN DUN).
Klokov…. Strong + Abs = Deal with it
Now, if you have already dropped an atlas stone on your computer because you’d rather be eating a metric ton of barbequed animal flesh than reading about an article containing the words “body” and “fat” written by a sub-250lb ex-soccer player, that’s fine and I support your cause. The purpose of this article is not to teach you to get “da abz” but to give a template of instruction on how to better add a conditioning element to your current training structure. Adding quality conditioning components will help increase your work capacity and result in a leaner and meaner looking physique to bust out during tank-top season.
The number one tool for conditioning is good ol’ fashion sprinting. When I say sprinting, I mean busting all out from between 10 to 60 seconds in a straight line. Sprinting is not only effective, but it’s FREE for anyone to do. You just have to be committed enough to go out and get it done. NOTE: If you haven’t ran faster than a legless turtle in a few years, I recommend easing your way into it. Program sprinting into your schedule either in the morning or at a time with at least 3 hours until hitting the weights to give yourself some recovery. Sprinting in the morning is advantageous for those specifically looking to lose some extra fat, for it places your body into an oxygen debt that demands your body to use more stored fat to provide energy throughout the day. If you have a hill close by, use it, it is a great tool to use to increase the metabolic demand of sprinting. Also, sprinting uphill is not only more demanding on your body to produce force, but the potential for injury to the hamstring or achilles tendon is lessened due to less impact force and eccentric loading. My personal favorite time for sprinting is directly after medium intensity front squats. Following a heavy compound lift, you can take advantage of post-activation potentiation, which basically means that the high amount of force your body used to complete the front squat is recruited during your sprinting and increases muscle recruitment and enhances muscle power. While it sounds cool, don’t be foolish enough to attempt to go out and crush a 200m dash following a ridiculous high volume set of squats expecting to be the next Usain Bolt. Sprinting is incredibly demanding on the body so rest and recover between reps accordingly, somewhere in the 1 – 3 minute range and reduce the rest as adaptation starts taking place.
Carmelita Jeter sprints and is jacked. Case closed.
Another tool that is incredibly effective at leaning you out and not as potentially damaging as sprinting is the concept of a “finisher.” I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of frat brothers knocking out some ridiculous amount of drop sets on isolation curls mid-NO Xplode keg stand, but what I like to utilize is a bit more indicative of performance training. A true finisher by design is a compound movement at a sub-maximal percentage, paired with lower intensity movement(s) over a distinct amount of rounds. The goal is to induce a systemic stress while still training for power production. If there isn’t a power element involved, you’re missing out on a lot of fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment. Think Heavy, Fast, Burn when picking movements to prioritize force production first, power production second, and finally lactate buildup and a high metabolic cost. Not only will they help lean you out, but they can help increase your ability to stay fast and explosive longer against fatigue.
One I am quite fond of and program for a few of my athletes is:
· Trap-bar deadlift at 70% for 12 reps
· DB hang clean to press x8
· 30 pushups (10 close, 10 wide, 10 clapping)
· Rest 2 min between rounds for 3 rounds
This training is difficult, but not debilitating. If you want to start adding in finishers to the end of your training sessions, feel free to follow this template and add in movements you find fitting or are specific to your desired event. You shouldn’t need to do more than two of these types of finishers a week (especially if you are adding in sprinting) but you need to stay committed to them long enough to induce an adaptation. Lastly, respect the concept of rest. I know that working hard enough to the point of puking is a source of pride for some people, but in reality it is simply a reminder that your body has limits. Use these not as tools for punishing yourself, but as methods to get stronger, faster, and more powerful while simultaneously losing some fat and looking little more ready to hit the beach.