You’re eight weeks into a comprehensive training program that’s guaranteed to improve your body in a number ways — more strength, more size, more stamina, faster foot speed, better hops, a more shredded six-pack. That’s good news. Even more good news: You’re two-thirds of the way finished with the Fitter, Faster, Leaner program. Only four weeks to go. You should already being seeing pleasing results, both in the mirror and in your training sessions, but down the homestretch that is Month 3, you’ll make continued gains across the board as the program reaches its peak. Speaking of peaks, you should be experiencing one of your own very soon — in four weeks, to be exact. Good luck. Finish strong.
Didn’t catch months 1 and/or 2 of the Fitter, Faster, Leaner program? Find them online at MuscleandPerformancemag.com/past-issues
In continuing the linear and reverse-linear periodization schemes carried through in months 1 and 2, these final four weeks of the program take rep schemes to the extreme on both ends of the spectrum. In the first two lifting workouts of each week, in which maximizing power and strength is the goal, most sets will fall in the two- to five-rep range, down from eight to 10 reps in Month 1 and six to seven in Month 2. As implied, you should be going as heavy as possible on these sets. If rep No. 5 is easy, increase the load for the next set. On certain power exercises, rep counts will be slightly higher, at six to eight.
In the second two lifting workouts of the week, muscle size and endurance are the focus, so rep counts reach a high point. You’ll be doing sets of 21 to 30 for the most part here, up from 10 to 15 and 16 to 20 in months 1 and 2, respectively. These high-rep sets will burn, so be prepared for that. Also, be ready to lighten the load when necessary, checking your ego at the door, if you haven’t already. If you’re not hitting at least 21 reps on every set, you’re going too heavy. (Ab exercises in Workout 3 are the exception — you’ll be going to failure and holding planks for time).
Running workouts in these final four weeks will be especially challenging. You’ll be asked to run more sprints with less rest time in workouts 1 and 3 and go for a longer distance in Workout 2. Your lungs will feel the difference right away, as will your legs, but the results should speak for themselves. By the end of week 12, your lower body will be considerably stronger and more powerful, and your cardiovascular system will be operating with great efficiency. Not only will your test results (see “Test Yourself,” Page TK) show the fruits of your labor, but, simply put, the cardio portion of the Fitter, Faster, Leaner plan will also make your entire body feel better — both fitter and healthier. This might just be the best feature of the entire program.
Month 3 Weight-Training Workouts
Want to learn more from training, nutrition and supplement authority Jim Stoppani, PhD? Visit his website JimStoppani.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.
Density Training Push-Up Program
The goal of this program (to be completed as the first exercise in Workout 3 every week) is to complete 60 push-ups without stopping. At each level, you will do one set every minute. Start at the top of the minute and complete the reps corresponding to that level. Rest until the top of the next minute, then start with set two. Continue in this fashion until all sets are completed for that level.
Start at Level 1, and once you’re able to complete all reps (120 push-ups in 12 minutes), progress to Level 2 (121 push-ups in 11 minutes) the next week. Once you successfully complete all reps for a given level, it’s time to move up to the next level.
Month 3 Cardio Workouts
Before embarking on the Fitter, Faster, Leaner program (before Week 1), you should have measured yourself in the eight tests detailed in the Month 1 article (January 2012 issue). The results from those test served as your “before” status. Now, it’s time to find out what your “after” results are.
After completing the final workout of week 12, allow yourself at least four days of complete rest (i.e., no training whatsoever) before testing to ensure your body is fully rested and fresh enough to achieve the best possible marks. Divide your testing into three distinct days:
- Day 1 (Power and Speed Testing): Vertical Jump, 40-Yard Dash
- Day 2 (Strength Testing): Bench Press 10-Rep Max, Squat 10-Rep Max
- Day 3 (Endurance Testing): Push-Up Test, 1.5-Mile Run
Rest a minimum of five minutes between each test. The Hip-to-Waist Ratio and Biceps Measurement tests can be done on any day before performance testing. For further details on how to perform the tests, refer to the Month 1 article.
Although the diet guidelines remain constant from the first eight weeks, it’s not too late to tweak your nutrition to better fit your goals. If your main objective is to gain more muscle, strength and power, bump up your carbohydrate intake by an additional 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight on rest days and an extra 0.5 to 1 gram per pound on workout days. If your goal is to maximize fat burning in this final month, decrease carb intake by 0.25 to 0.5 grams per pound on rest days and by 0.5 to 1 grams on workout days. If these areas aren’t major issues for you, however, follow these guidelines as written:
Consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day, focusing on lean whole-food sources like eggs, chicken, beef, fish and dairy for most meals. Shoot for 30 to 50 grams of protein at these meals. Within 30 minutes before and after workouts, have a fast-digesting whey protein shake — 20 grams of whey before and 40 grams after. Also, drink 20 grams of whey as soon as you wake up, before showering and getting ready, followed by a whole-food breakfast 30 to 60 minutes later.
On nontraining days, limit carbs to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. On training days, shoot for 1.5 to 2 grams per pound. Go with slow-digesting carbs, like fruits and whole grains like oatmeal and whole-wheat bread, at most meals. After workouts, however, consume fast-digesting carbs with your whey protein. Limit carb intake after dinner to keep off unwanted body fat.
Aim to get 0.25 to 0.5 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight per day. Ideal sources include omega-3 polyunsaturated fats from salmon, sardines, flax and walnuts, and monounsaturated fats from nuts, olive oil and avocadoes.
Counting calories isn’t necessary here, but if the above guidelines are followed, you should be consuming 12 to 14 calories per pound of bodyweight on rest days and 14 to 18 calories per pound on workout days.
Follow the same regimen for supplement intake in Month 3 as you did in months 1 and 2. By sticking to the below recommendations and dosages, you’ll experience more energy for workouts and better muscle recovery — not to mention better results in all areas.
Take 2 to 5 grams with your preworkout and postworkout protein shake. On rest days, take it with your morning protein shake.
Take 2 to 3 grams at the same times as advised for creatine.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Add 5 to 10 grams to your morning, preworkout and postworkout shakes.
Take 300 milligrams per day, with meals.