It’s 1st of March and time for a cut after 5 months of heavy lifting and mostly unrestricted diet. The damage is minimal, I stand at 69 kg (taken yesterday at the doctor’s office, semi clothed) so goal weight is 67-66. Thus I thought a 4 week program would be ideal since there’s not much to cut.
This is also going to be my first workout with an online journal, which I’m going to do for 2 reasons:
- To keep myself more accountable
- To force myself to finally get a move on on web design
Since I don’t have means to measure bodyfat, the results will be estimated by the mirror and the scales. Not ideal but what can I do. Waist measure might be an option, if I get home tomorrow I’ll make a note of that.
If you stumbled on this blog, let me just clarify something real quick: this is not a workout program. The workout program belongs to Jim Stoppani and I encourage you to go and get it from him.
What this is, is my log of my workouts and modifications to this program. I am freely sharing this information online, but I am not an educated trainer or a fitness expert – I just lift! The reasons and reasoning behind the modifications to the program will be explained in further text. If you want to look into what I did and was doing, feel free! However I am not telling you to do this program, I am not selling or endorsing it, and I am not responsible for any damage, injury or lack of results you might experience following this stuff.
Disclaimer completed, let’s move on to the good stuff!
The workout program
So the program I’m using is widely based on Jim Stoppani’s Four Week Full Body Shred program. Here is the reasoning behind my choice:
- I just spent months on a bro split and 2 weeks on a push pull. Full body training alone will be a shock for the body, let alone full body 5x a week
- I just spend months on low to medium reps, not going above 12 reps in working sets, not going above 15 in warm up. This program utilized days with 6-8 reps but also goes as high as 30-35. Reps this high will be extra shock for the body.
- The program has built in periodization as well as workout changes so I don’t have to worry much.
- The program is short and time limited, which is helpful since cuts are easiest to bear when there’s light at the end of the tunnel 🙂
The original program is laid out on Stoppani’s site. I don’t have full access but that doesn’t matter as I would alter the program anyway. While ingenious, Stoppani’s programs seem to be designed, as another blogger put it, for people who live in the gym and have a personal chef. An average person can’t hope to stick to the time demands of the program, so I will aim to stick to basic principles and focus on achieving the required workout intensity while reducing carbs and maintaining protein levels in my diet.
Better Some Than None
My personal fitness (and everything else) philosophy has always been “better some than none at all”.
I’ve noticed a lot of people give up on fitness before even trying it because it is too time consuming, too complicated or too exhausting. It became popular for professional athletes and trainers to create these exhaustive programs fit for professional athletes but night impossible for an average Joe or Jane with a daily 6 hour window for life to even begin considering doing them.
This is why I encourage everyone to take a program and modify them to their own needs. Can’t do a program with 4 sets per exercise because you have only 30 minutes? Great, reduce it to 3 sets and work out for 30 minutes. Can’t go to a gym? Do home workouts. Can’t do 20 minutes of cardio today? Do 10.
I’ve found that fitness – anything, really – is a sum of what you do do, not an outcome of perfection in executing a program. Just do as much as you can; you might not get best results, but you’ll get some results.
In this fashion I always tailor my fitness to my limitations, and enjoy some of the benefits and results. It’s not as good as following a program to a T, but it’s way better than doing nothing!
KISS 4 Week Full Body Burn
So here’s my simplified version of the program. Workouts will be split in 4 phases, each consisting of 5 full body workouts. In each of the four phases, I will use following intensity boosting techniques:
- Compound sets
- Pre exhaust compound sets
This is exactly like the original program save for phase 4. Dropsets are a more realistic option since I neither own the gym I work out at, nor is it super equipped.
Each phase consists of 5 full body workouts. Each workout employs a reps/sets scheme which uses Jim Stoppani’s periodisation principles as follows (the scheme is sets x Rep range):
- Fbw #1 – 3×6-8
- Fbw #2 – 3×8-10
- Fbw #3 – 3×16-20
- Fbw #4- 3×12-15
- Fbw #5 3×30-35
I am kind of scared of these big numbers: for me, even 15 reps is a rare occurance so I am sitting here wondering if I can even pull off those 30 rep sets!
But let’s finish planning first, as failing to plan is planning to fail. What about the exercises? Well, I will make this a little bit heuristic. Since I don’t have access to Stoppani’s full program, this is where I’ll let creativity kick in. In each and every workout I will do:
- 2 exercises for back
- 2 exercises for chest
- 2 exercises for legs
- 2 exercises for biceps
- 2 exercises for delts
- 1 exercise for the triceps
- 1 exercise for traps
This sounds nice and balanced, see as triceps get a lot of beating during chest and delts work and the traps are a part of back training. You may notice the abs are missing, but I do abs in the cardio section (to be considered later).
The order of the exercises will vary in each workout, and so will the exercises themselves. I won’t write up detailed exercise choices. Instead, I will focus on working all general muscle groups in the course of a workout, and all single muscles in the course of a phase.
How does this work in practice? Well, for delts, I will do 2 exercises every workout. Some workouts I will do a press and a side delts exercise, some workouts I will do a press and a rear delts exercise and some workouts I will do a front delts and a side delts exercise, ets. So throughout the 5 workouts – a single phase – all the aspects of the delt (rear, front, side, overall) will be worked. I love this approach because it allows not only for quick on-the-go planning when a certain piece of equipment is taken, but also allows for flexible exercise choice within the periodisation scheme. For example, I will do upright rows in the 12-15 day, for example, because it really doesn’t make sense to do those very heavy. I will program side lateral raises on high rep days, because that exercise bears being done light. Squats will be on the 6-8 day while 30-35 day may be better served by goblet or dumbbell sumo squats. In other words, creative planning on the go.
Now, this may sound like a fuzzy approach, and it sort of is. I have been lifting weights for 12 years now and I know both my moves and my grooves, so just thinking of an exercise from the top of my head and picking the right weight for the given rep range will be easy. If you are new to this, pre planning your workouts is a good idea. Or, leave it to the pro and buy access to Stoppani’s full program.
One thing that will be very helpful to me in my heuristic approach is a through log of my workouts which I plan to keep online, ie here, so you can also use it as a sort of a creative reference. I expect it to be a bit messy at first and better in later phases – I have to get used to online logging too 🙂
Abs and Cardio
Workout out of the way, I am also going to incorporate some cardio into this program to (hopefully) speed up fat loss and also boost my metabolism further.
By what I just said, you can tell I mean some sort of a high intensity brand cardio, not steady state. And you’re mostly right – although some steady state will happen too as it is part of my sort-of adventuring life stlye.
After giving the program a thought, I made the following observation about the 4 phases of training: phase 1 incorporates supersets, meaning very little to no rest between sets is required. This is because if I pair up chest with the back, for example, chest is resting while I’m doing the set for the back; so I can just go right on into another chest set after I’m done with the back.
This is my usual workout pattern: I almost always employ supersets see as they save time. In phase 1 I will do short (15-20 minutes) light ciurcit workout after the actual workout as cardio. These ciurcit workouts, for me, typically contain about 3 abs exercises, which is where I work my abs.
All the other phases work on the compound principle, ie they pair two exercises for the same muscle one after the other. This means that, unlike with supersets, I will need to give the muscle some rest before training the same muscle again.
This pattern seems ideal for incorporating Jim Stoppani’s other staple workout principle: cardio acceleration! So I can kill two birds with the same stone: do my cardio, maintain intensity and heart rate while resting and save time by not meaningless standing around for a minute or so between compound sets! Right, make that three birds.
So how about that steady state cardio I mentioned? Well – thank Jim – I get 2 rest days on this program.. And also I love to cycle, walk and mountaineer with my boyfriend and friends. So my steady state cardio won’t be a programmed 30 minutes of stationary bike or a treadmill: instead, it will be a crashing social event invading in my workout schedule. The principle is simple: if I get to do steady state cardio that day, I skip the high intensity cardio at the end – or during – the workout. This helps me keep my social life while also taking some pressure off my joints by reducing all the jumping and momentum they undergo in high intensity bursts.
So… This is a fat loss program, and the diet is 80% of success, right? Right.
But I will keep it very simple.
I normally eat heatly and home cooked. Even my bulk period is clean foods with only a couple invading protein bars and some extra chocolate on the side. Pizza, burgers and crap aren’t my thing, and am not a big fan of restaurants so that helps too.
Note, I am bad at dieting so take this with a grain of salt. I will modify my diet only slightly, by
- Having at least 3 tuna based meals at work
- eating no cheese on every even day (for me this is terrible. I love cheese!)
- chocolate or similar foods restricted to 1x/week (protein bars included)
- 1 cheat meal a week (I have that at work, it’s cheese burek and now Bosnia can go explode 🙂 )
I should do a lot better with the diet, but under the circumstances, this will have to do. One more note, I don’t count calories but I do Lee Labrada’s fist – hand – cup principle. Ie, for each meal I eat carbs the amount of my fist, protein the amount of my hand with fingers curled to the palm, and salad the amount I could cup in one hand. This isn’t very accurate, and I normally err on the side of eating more protein and less carbs. Now I will do so deliberately.
But let me let Lee explain this to you himself:
In a word: not much. Yes I am aware those are two words.
I do believe Stoppani’s workouts merit extensive supplementation for best results, mind, and I am not telling you “do as I do” – I am telling you “do as Stoppani says”. However, extensive supplementation is something I can’t really afford at the moment; so I’ll employ only:
- A good, fairly expensive magnesium supp
- A fairly decent whey powder
- A higher end glucosamine supp
- Some of those fizzy multivitamin, vitamin C etc drinks
- an energy drink as pre workout
I won’t name any names because I’m not trying to push any products. The point here is, this is high intensity training and at least for me, a high end magnesium supp is a must otherwise I’ll be experiencing muscle cramps in no time. I don’t like to spend money but low end stuff doesn’t work here. Same with glucosamine.
So… That’s that; the program, the diet, the supplementation; simplified and adjusted for the average Jane and Joe. Now on to the first workout!