When we published our currently top trending article, “Women, You’ll Get Bigger Before You Get Smaller” back in October, we never expected to get as many questions and comments on the post as we are continuously getting to this date. Since we published it, the questions we’ve received have allowed us to not only go back and add more valuable information to the post, but it has also helped us figure out our audience a bit more and ultimately be able to provide answers that many people (women especially) are searching for.
Since October, Erik and I have learned:
- Most women are not eating enough food
- Most Strong Figure readers are not eating enough carbs
- Many women are doing too much cardio and not enough strength training
- Many women are scared of lifting heavy weights
- Most women do not know what to do with weights or how to train properly
The awesome thing that I see here is that most women do know and understand that they need to lift weights. Even those who have done nothing but cardio their whole lives are jumping on the barbell bandwagon. That is GREAT. But what’s not great is that while knowing weight training is important, most women are either scared of doing it or just unsure on how to go about it.
About a month ago, I developed the MH6 Protocol: six weeks worth of six-minute HIIT workouts to add to the end of a strength training routine. The program was designed to help burn an additional 200 calories per day in order to boost fat loss without having to suffer through a calorie deficit, or AKA, a diet. We at Strongfigure believe in eating as much food possible while lifting heavy and performing interval conditioning workouts. This is the key to optimal fitness: strong and fast, fueled by foods–not diets. The program was a HIT. Or should I say a hiit? 😉 We gave out over 1000+ copies. But we kept getting questions about strength training on our original post. We realized that even though many women were “hiiting” the gym hard (is it still funny?), most still didn’t quite understand what to do with the weights in their hands. Couple this with the fact that I run into people daily who have NO clue what to do inside a weight room, I knew I had to put together a program that would help. Even most advanced lifters, including yours truly, will try to fix a poor metabolism by out exercising it, which does NOT work. Furthermore, the type of exercise, specific training program, and meeting your macronutrient needs is essential to fixing a stalled or damaged metabolism.
Editor’s note: if you are curious how you can get a copy of MH6, we are adding to it, improving it, and we will re-release it in our store in the next few weeks.
How to fix a slow metabolism
Strong Figures, I bring you not one or two, but three 12 Week Muscle Building and Fat Loss Training Programs. One for beginners, one for intermediate lifters, and one for more advanced lifters. And the best part of the programs? They’re specifically designed for people who are struggling to recover from metabolic damage (those who ate too little for too long), those who need to eat well and perform the types of lifts to revamp the metabolism so that it begins to burn fat effectively again.
How and why it works:
Have you ever felt like the harder you trained the harder it became to lose fat? So you trained even harder and longer, cut out even more food, ended up spending 12+ hours a week at the gym, sometimes twice a day, eating barely 1200-1500 calories, ending up with tendinitis of the (fill in the blank), and completely fatigued yourself while screaming, “What more can I do here?!”
Yeah, me too.
Unfortunately, too many of us started a weight loss quest by following bad advice. Cut your calories to 1200, lift for 45 minutes a day, take a group cardio class after lifting, spend an additional 20 minutes on the stair climber, maybe go on a walk with the dog for a couple miles when you get home and whatever you do, do NOT eat a carb. Nope, not one. And we drop five pounds the first week, two the next, .1 the week following, and the next, we gain 3.
Is this your story? Maybe I’m over-exaggerating some of it or maybe I’m spot on, but regardless, most of us have screwed up the same way. You see, when we jump into anything too fast–whether it’s a super-strict diet or a crazy hard training program, our hormones say, “Whoa whoa whoa. What’s going on here?” Forget the “Rome wasn’t built in a day” cliche, think about it this way: If you’ve never weight trained before and I put a 250-pound bar on your back and told you to squat it, what would happen if you tried? I think it’s safe to say that you’d fail. No one wakes up and says, “I’m going to be an Olympic high board diver today” and then walks onto the team without a single practice. Do you see where I’m going with this? Fat loss is a slow and steady learning process. It’s not fast and overnight. Any method that promotes speedy fat loss is setting you up for failure. But unfortunately, most of us have tried these failing programs and what happened to us? We screwed up our hormones and now we can’t lose jack sh*t.
Specifically, what happened to us is that when we added more exercise in order to try and boost our fat loss, that triggered a defense mechanism in the body that caused it to respond the same way it would if we restricted calories for too long: it fat hoarded. And what happens the minute we realize we are storing and not losing fat? We do things like “add more steady state cardio” to our workouts. You know, that extra cardio class at the gym or the added three miles after the already intense CrossFit class. Do you know what your body does when you’ve turned into a cardio addict? It uses your muscle tissue for its energy, meaning you have less calories to burn when resting. (The more muscle you have the more calories you burn while resting. That’s just one of the benefits of building lean mass–obviously not burning it!!)
Another negative to increasing your exercise is that you’re now at risk for an overuse injury. And even if you’re lucky enough to avoid an injury, you’re extremely likely to burn out and start hating the gym and all exercise. The thing that used to be your escape, your stress relief, your adrenaline pumper, and your endorphin trigger….you now dread. You’ve had enough. It doesn’t work for you so you’re tired of working for it. And now your joints ache to top it all off.
When we eat too little and workout too hard, our bodies’ ability to lose fat just stops–no matter how much or how little fat you have to lose. We did it wrong, and we screwed up our insides. Now we’ve got to fix the damage. The metabolic damage, to be exact.
So how do you fix it? With the RIGHT exercise.
Believe it or not, the type of exercise you do can have a major impact on your ability to burn fat and both gain and preserve muscle. Obviously picking up heavy weights and spending less time on the stair mill helps. But what are you going to do to fix the crappy metabolism that your calorie-cutting and 3-hr-a-day workout screwed up?
Our 12 week training programs mix supersets, low-medium-high range repetitions, complex lifts, body-part training, and each day is topped with very short intense intervals. It’s not a CrossFit program, powerlifting program, or even bootcamp style of training. It’s very different. It’s actually a pretty sweet combination of your three big power lifts with bodybuilding-type auxiliary lifting, with an intense conditioning finish to each workout.
Sounds like a lot, right? Not really. This is the approach you need to rewire your hormones, boost your slow metabolism, and reignite the fire primed to burning the extra fat.
You see, your body is always trying to adapt to stress. Lifting 3 sets of 3 every day at maximum weights is a LOT of stress on the body. Running for miles upon miles upon miles each day is a lot of stress. Spending two hours trying to crush the heaviest weight you can pick up–over and over–puts your body under a lot of stress. And since most of us reading this are in a quest for fat loss, that means we’re probably stressing out our bodies while underfeeding it. Our hormones are shutting off and the end result is a coping mechanism that your body automatically employs: save ALL the fat! He/she is killing us here!
With the training programs that we’ve designed here, those looking to maximize fat loss while rewiring hormones and metabolism will be able to safely focus on muscle recomposition and not the constant “I’m under too much stress and I can’t deal with this anymore” mode.
Separately, CrossFit style training, strongman, and powerlifting can all be phenomenal training programs and in many ways yield the greatest results for most athletes. And these are the types of training that we typically would recommend to our readers. But all of these styles of lifting are VERY taxing on the body and put the body under tremendous stress. If you are eating correctly and resting correctly then programs like CrossFit or powerlifting will lead to great success. But if you are not taking care of yourself and you are not getting the calories that your body needs to fuel these demanding training regimens then you will likely end up damaging your metabolism and creating a state of hormonal chaos in your body. That’s why we’ve developed a program that is founded upon rebuilding your musculature–not tearing you down and causing unwanted hormonal and physical stress.
So how do you fix a broken metabolism?
If you are suffering from metabolic damage, it is best to take a break from the extreme demands that training programs like CrossFit and powerlifting will put you through and change your routine. Don’t worry, when you get your metabolism functioning correctly again you can go back to your hardcore training regimen. (And don’t worry–this programming is still hardcore…just in a different way.)
Our 12 week training programs are designed specifically to still help you gain muscle, lose fat, but best of all, FIX your too-slowed metabolism. Our training program is also excellent for preventing metabolic damage for novice lifters who are looking to reap the awesome benefits of resistance training. And if you’re brand new to lifting–that’s great! All the programs are linked to YouTube videos so that you know what to do when you hit the weight room. The beginner’s program starts out with basic exercises and the intermediate and advanced programs take on some challenging yet fun lifts. I promise each program is different, fun, and will change both your appearance AND your metabolism!
But PLEASE realize that none of this works unless you EAT properly. We do have a book coming out this summer that will teach you how to properly feed your body, properly train, and much much more. Or if you want custom nutrition coaching please click here.
So here is the best part: the three 12 week training programs are absolutely free! All you have to do is be one of us — a Strong Figure subscriber, which by the way, is also free. I know, this keeps getting better and better.
You can subscribe below and don’t worry we will treat your email like gold. The great thing about subscribing is that you get all our latest blog posts and other cool offers too — like more information about how to eat and train properly. And you can cancel at anytime. (Just know that canceling would make us super sad.)
And we would love it if you would share us and our articles with your friends! We are all in this struggle together!!!
For those of you following my weekly conditioning programming, here are your three Strong Figure Conditioning Workouts for the week. Enjoy–and don’t forget to subscribe and download your new 12 week lifting plan!
Workout One–10 Rounds for time:
- 10 Burpees
- 10 Kettlebell Swings (or 10 squats if you don’t have a KB)
- 1 minute plank
Workout Two–For time:
- 400 meter run
- 50 squats
- 400 meter run
- 40 wall balls
- 400 meter run
- 30 kettlebell swings
- 400 meter run
- 20 weighted burpees (hold a dumbbell in each hand)
If you don’t have any equipment to work with, sub 40 lunges for the wall balls, 30 hollow rocks for the swings, and 20 push-ups for the weighted burpees.
Workout Three–For Time:
- 7 minutes max Turkish Get Ups (alternating arms)
- 200 double unders (immediately after your get-ups) or 300 squat jumps if you don’t have a rope or your double unders yet.
If you don’t have a KB or DB for the get-ups, hold anything you can find. This is such a balancing exercise that as long as you can hold something in your hand, you’ll get a great workout! Some people may choose to hold nothing and just work on form too. That’s fine! Getting up and down off the ground for 7 minutes will work you out no matter what!