Most people who lift weights, exercise, and generally eat right are what I like to call “Casual Lifters.” They generally look pretty good and they might even be “The Big Dude” in their circle of friends.
But being casual about anything only gets you so far…
At some point in almost every lifters life he or she will often wonder what it what be like to be incredibly lean. “Stage lean” or “contest ready” as it’s known to those in the competitive bodybuilding ranks. Maybe you don’t want to get quite to the point of seeing your vital organs, but this plan will get you however lean you want to be if you follow it.
So if you are ready to take a step, or many steps, beyond casual than boy do I have just the ticket for you.
The Deep End
If you’ve been around the iron game long enough, you may have heard that getting from 20% to 10% is the easy part. Its getting from 10% to 3% that separates the men from the boys. Or the boys from the women, as the case may be.
The following strategy has been used successfully by many, myself included several times (several times for “fun” and once for a bodybuilding show), and is one that I have adapted from natural IFBB pros Skip Lacour and Jeff Willett.
It has taken me many “dry runs” and many years, but I have worked to simplify this process as best I can and I can honestly say that while this plan is not easy to undertake, it is easy enough to understand that just about anyone should be able to do it if they are dedicated enough.
The plan will take you to absolute limits of leanness, and it’ll take you there step by step. Honestly, The only way to not end up as shredded as you can get is to deviate from the plan, or quit early when you realize the last few pounds might not be worth it after all. And truthfully unless you are stepping on stage they might not be.
Having said that, it is not for everyone. If you haven’t yet learned how to get to and maintain a respectable level of leanness, this isn’t the strategy for you. It is neither desirable nor even necessary to use a strategy this meticulous and inflexible when you still haven’t figured out how to lose that spare tire.
Likewise, if you are not willing to make a very intense commitment to getting to finish line, this again is not the strategy I would recommend using. You will most certainly have to track your calories, eat the same thing most every day for simplicities sake, lose strength temporarily, and depending on your metabolism towards the end you may be doing more cardio than any sane person should be doing.
But if you are the type of person who currently is maintaining a very respectable build and is in good health, but isn’t quite sure how to wade into the deep waters of being extremely lean and want to do it correctly, this is exactly what you need.
A Word on Training Programs
I hope this goes without saying here, but It is assumed you will be training on a program, and training hard.
I have tried out enough programs and have seen others try out enough to come to the conclusion that provided certain needs are met, the training program really doesn’t matter all that much, especially for fat loss. The single most important factor is that you are training hard and pushing yourself on whatever program it is that you are on.
As I have worked to tweak and simplify this program, I’ve gone through it several times now over the last 10 years, and in the name of experimentation I’ve used a different training program each time including 5/3/1, EDT, and Six Weeks to Superhero right here from T-Nation. All worked almost equally as well. The key is to keep pushing yourself so that your body understands that the muscle mass you have earned through the years is still very much necessary and you cannot afford to get rid of it.
If you want to make sure you are training hard enough to tell your body you need as much mass as possible, look no further than any of the Mike Rashid tested training programs.
You can tip the scales in your favor by incorporating some metabolic work or density based training, but in general any smart training program that prioritizes heavy weight training will do the trick. If you are currently using one and getting results, just stick with it and don’t worry if you are on the “right kind” of training.
A Word On Diet and Macros
While I personally utilize a low carb approach (while still including peri-workout nutrition) with weekly re-feeds, you may use whichever approach you have found success with up until this point. Many a bodybuilder has gotten shredded to the bone on good ol’ Chicken and Rice, and many have had success with a lower carb approach. If you aren’t sure where to start you probably are not knowledgeable enough about your own body to be doing this program. #toughlove
A word to the wise; I generally recommend that aside from your intra-workout nutrition all of your calorie intake should come from whole foods as you will likely be hungry, especially towards the end, and you will be kicking yourself for downing a protein shake and being hungry again in 60-90 minutes.
If you would like to learn the basics of eating right for this style of program before you jump into going into the extreme ends of dieting like this, look no further than the Clean Bulking method.
- Next week we will go into detail on the step-by-step method for getting stupid lean.