This article on the one best workout for fat loss and muscle building was originally written by Nick Mitchell(Founder of UP) for AskMen.com in 2007 a few months after a particularly horrible Charles Poliquin training session…
At my personal training gyms we specialise in workouts that will hand your arse to you on a plate. Sweat drenched bodies crumpled up in broken heaps in the corner of the gym are a common site as we know that this is the only way to fulfill our motto of “maximum results in minimum time”. I am very aware however that not everybody is fortunate enough to have access to the elite personal trainers or fancy gym equipment found at our London facility – sprint tracks, sleds and 160lb dumbells not being the obvious currency of your typical commercial gym. So when I am asked what is the most effective single workout ever created I know that I need to keep it simple, keep it realistic, and make it brutally honest. Executed properly the following workout will ask questions of you that you have never faced before, and if you man up to your responsibilities you will come out the other side stronger, leaner and more physically and mentally resilient than you ever thought possible. After this workout everything else in the gym just gets that little bit easier.
THE BASIC WORKOUT:
- Barbell Squats , 10RM, 60secs rest then..
- Medium width, pronated grip Pull Ups, 10RM, 60 secs rest then..
- Barbell Deadlift, 10RM, 60 secs rest then..
- Dips, 10RM, 120secs rest.
Notes on the Workout:
Repetition Tempo / Cadence – 4 second negative/eccentric, 0 second pause at the bottom of the movement, 1 second explosive positive, 0 second pause at the top of the movement.
10RM (Rep Maximum)= pick a weight that allows you to hit 10 reps if you rip your spleen to get your 10th rep. 10 easy, or 10 hardish reps just won’t cut it and will fail to generate either the hypertrophic (muscle growth) or metabolic responses we are looking for.
You MUST go for the 10 reps. Anything less and you will not elicit a high enough lactate response and consequently not produce enough GH.
You should aim to complete 4 total cycles – that means 4 working sets of each exercise. Don’t worry if you can’t get through 4 full cycles on your first time out. Expect to feel nauseous the first time you do this anywhere between sets 3-7 depending upon your fitness levels and conditioning. Interestingly those with a greater training age (more experience in the gym, not chronologically older) will find this programme more demanding as they are more neurologically efficient, and therefore better able to tap into the high threshold motor units of their muscle cells that are responsible for generating muscular power (as opposed to endurance). Untrained strength can improve by 300%, untrained recovery (CNS) by about 80%. A set to failure for a big strong man really is harder than a set to failure for a pencil neck. 10 all out reps of squats for someone with 3 years plus experience under their belt are tough. Follow that up with chins, deadlifts, and dips and very tough doesn’t even get close.
Why this is the only workout you will ever need:
The real key to this programme is that you are creating a massive metabolic response whilst also stimulating a physiological effect (hypertrophy) in the muscles. The following principles apply:
1. ALL the major and most minor muscle groups are trained-
Squats – quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, lower back, even calves get worked.
Chins – Primarily back (latissimus dorsi) and biceps, also rear deltoids and abdominals (never underestimate how much the abs are involved in stabilising the core in this ENTIRE workout).
Deadlifts – entire posterior chain primarily – hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae. Plus quadriceps, back, trapezius, rear deltoids, forearms.
Dips – Pectorals, triceps, shoulder girdle.
2. Muscular Hypertrophy
Muscle fibres stimulated in rep range and time under tension (TUT) necessary to elicit a hypertrophic response. Most readers will be familiar with rep range protocols – 10 reps approx is the standard figure for muscle growth/stimulation of the fast twitch muscle fibres most responsible for muscle growth, but more important than that is the concept of TUT. 40-60 seconds TUT is the best range for muscular hypertrophy, whereas sub 20secs TUT will be for relative strength (strength but no size response), 20-40 secs (functional hypertrophy – strength and size, more slanted towards strength), 60secs plus (muscular endurance stimulus – no real growth response and potential for actual muscle mass decrease due to shrinking of fast twitch fibres). Whilst this isn’t a bodybuilding workout per se, it will assist some trainees to build muscle, as well as improve conditioning to such an extent that certain fast paced hypertrphy protocols will seem a breeze in comparison!
3. Lactate Response
High levels of blood lactate have been proven to increase Growth Hormone output. In a programme of this nature we have seen blood lactate levels rise to 20 mmol/l – normal is 0.5-1mmol/l! This is because you are working major muscle groups with minimal rest in a rep range and TUT guaranteed to produce maximum blood lactate. High blood lactate levels make you feel VERY nauseous incidentally.
ALTERNATIVE EXERCISES in case of lack of equipment / injuries
Barbell Squats – dumbbell squats (much of the load is off the spine in comparison to a barbell squat – there is a nack to performing this exercise that any good personal trainer should be to show you) / Hack squats and leg presses are both options, but not as good as any machine is a less neurologically demanding (and therefore easier) movement.
Deadlifts – with dumbbells / Cable Pull Throughs (less spinal loading) / Good Mornings.
Dips – Bench Press / Dumbell Bench Press / Weighted press ups (get someone to push down on your back).
Chins – Pulldowns (a weak alternative, but better for some who cannot chin) / Bent over Barbell or dumbbell rows / Power Cleans.
It’s All About Results!
The anabolic shock of this GH inducement can cause some to gain muscle mass, others to shed serious levels of body fat. Note that what you get from this type of training is a GH response that is 9 times normal levels! What you get from it does significantly depend upon nutritional factors. I have seen some men drop over 15lbs in a 4 week period, others have maintained the same body weight whilst decreasing fat mass by 10lbs and adding on 10lbs of new muscle weight. I would have some perform this programme 3 times a week for 3-4 weeks (frequency of training does need to be carefully managed) and then change things around before adaptation and burnout set in. Others may benefit from integrating this into an overall fitness programme (exactly how you do this entirely dependent upon your own unique goals and recovery ability).
I have found this programme to be particularly useful for quickly upping the game of clients ranging from MMA fighters and international judoka, through to guys wanting to rip up for a spot of seaside posing. Not only does it work well from a body composition and muscle building perspective, but it also instills an intensity and level of aggression that can be very useful in contact sports. Beach volleyball doesn’t count!