Last month I wrote an article entitled “Train Smarter,” which discussed the abuse of steady state cardio in most health circles. I got TONS of questions in my Facebook inbox, so I thought it would be good to write a follow up article to answer some of those questions. The main question was, “Ok, so if you don’t do cardio, what DO you do to lose body fat?” For both competitions and everyday life, nailing the DIET is always going to be the difference between success and failure. You must get your nutrition in check in order to lose fat. Even if you do HIIT and metabolic circuits, if you go home and eat pizza, you won’t decrease your pants size. Now that we’ve established the supremacy of diet for fat loss, I will outline how I lean out for shows. When I stop competing, I will likely adopt a similar protocol if I’m getting ready for bikini season, a special occasion, or just feel like I’m getting a little soft. Or I might throw in MET circuits after a few months of heavy lifting, just to change it up. This works for me every time. Not only does working out like this keep me off the treadmill, but it also allows me to train like an animal. As a former athlete, if I don’t feel physically challenged, I’m not going to have fun. At the end of my workouts, I want to be breathless and hanging onto the bottom of my shorts in fatigue. To me, that’s fun. That’s how I know I’ve worked out hard. Monday: MET day 1 Tuesday: MET day 2 + HIIT Weds: off Thurs: MET day 3 Friday: MET leg day Saturday: off Sunday: Yeager Bombs (ie, another MET day!) So, as you can see, I actually get 2 full off days during prep. Awesome sauce? I think so. Remember: less is more. 3 of my MET days are usually total body circuits, and 1 day is devoted strictly to legs. And let me tell you, I have to sit in my car and talk myself into going into the gym on my MET leg day. It usually takes me at least an hour and half to complete, and I typically can’t walk for 2-3 days. Fellow Yeager Bomb, Lauren, and I usually buddy up during the last 4-5 weeks of prep just to push each other through this awful, awful day. But I will say this: even though it’s painful, my booty always looks amazing on stage. And that’s no accident, folks. That’s hard work, a tight diet, and a bangin’ program from Leigh Ann. So, what is a metabolic circuit, you ask? It’s basically interval training mixed with resistance training. That means you get the fat-burning and cardiovascular benefits of intense cardio along with the muscle-building properties of a weight-lifting workout. Pick at least four exercises for each giant set, and each workout will contain 4 giant sets. Sound like a lot? It is. You can choose regular weight-training exercises or body-weight moves, or you can mix both kinds together. When you’re ready to begin, perform all 4 exercises in the 1st Giant Set without resting. If you’re not breathless after round 1, you’re doing it wrong. You should not rest before moving onto your next round of Giant Set 1. After you’ve completed 4 full rounds, take a minute or 2 of recovery while you set up for Giant Set 2. You’ll do 4 rounds of Giant Set 2, move onto Giant Set 3, and then onto Giant Set 4. You do 4 rounds of each Giant Set, resting only in between each set, NOT between exercises. Some considerations: If you make your circuit with weighted exercises, don’t use super heavy weights. Go with something light. It’s the volume, or total amount of work done, that’s important. In other words, if you tire out too soon and can’t complete the reps, you defeat the purpose. SAMPLE METABOLIC WORKOUT Giant Set 1) Wide Grip pulldowns x 8-12 2) T-pushups x 12-15 each side 3) Bodyweight Squat (FAST) x 20-25 4) Weighted decline situps x 15-20 Giant Set 2 1) Incline barbell chest press x 6-8 2) Burpees x 15-20 3) Chopper situps x 15-20 each side 4) Alternating DB hammer curls x 10-12 Giant Set 3 1) Bent over underhand grip barbell row x 8-10 2) Jump Lunges x 10-12 each side 3) Seated military press x 10-12 4) Rope rear delt face pulls x 20-25 Giant Set 4 1) Barbell deadlift x 20-25 2) OH Triceps extension x 10-12 3) Seated alternating lateral raises x 15-20 each side 4) Mountain Climbers x 20-25 each side This is just a sample of 1 day. You can see the rep ranges vary here, and the whole point is to go as fast as you can. The weight you use should be secondary to your speed. So, if you normally do military presses with 30lbs, you may have to humble yourself and drop your weight in order to complete them quickly within the given rep scheme. Typically, with MET circuits, you have to leave your ego at the door. You simply cannot lift as heavy when you’re moving with tons of speed. You control the effort you put into these workouts, so it’s very easy to either slack or to make them too hard. If you get through 1-2 rounds of your 1st Giant Set and feel like you can do more, either grab heavier weights or go faster – it’s as easy as that. Similarly, if you feel too fatigued, drop your weight or slow your pace. It should be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t make you puke. You should be treading the line, though. When you’re done, you should feel like you need to lay down on the floor for a while! For HIIT, there’s nothing magical about the formula: rest for less time than you work. Interval training is not necessarily HIIT, although it’s often confused for it. Intervals are also excellent for fat loss, but I think HIIT is superior. You can do something easy, such as 10, 1 minute, all-out sprints on a bike, treadmill, or elliptical, with 30 seconds or less of recovery. Boom goes the dynamite. 15 minutes and you’ll be done. Truly, you shouldn’t be able to do much more than that. Some research even shows that a mere 4 minutes of true HIIT is better for fat loss than all other forms of cardio. 4 minutes? Sign me UP! I hope this gives you a good idea of how you can structure your workouts. I am thinking of filming a Yeager Bombs session soon so you all can meet my crew and take a look at our workouts. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below! Remember, YOU control how hard you work. So give 100% effort for the hour that you’re working, and I promise that’s all you’ll ever need. You can happily walk by the treadmills as you leave the gym without feeling guilty. Beth is an NPC and OCB figure competitor and has been competing for 3 years. When she’s not rocking the stage in her stiletto heels, she’s either at work as Project Manager at a Pharmaceutical company in Durham, NC or she’s in the gym training clients or teaching spin classes. In her very minimal free time, Beth likes to sleep, eat, play with her dog, and spend time with her boyfriend and friends (who also like to sleep and eat).