Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Training for the fat guy who breathes heavy sitting on the couch who wants to get in shape and be sexier

Since I have done a few articles on gaining mass and getting big, it's only fair that I send some love to the fat guys that want to get in shape and feel better about all of that mass that they (hopefully) gained from all the time they spent eating big and training as heavy as they could.

Let me say I am big on getting in shape.  Yes, you absolutely can get ripped and in LOOK in shape by walking for countless hours on the treadmill and eating small meals six times a day.  However, looking in shape and being in shape aren't the same thing.  Be strong and look strong, be in shape and look in shape.  Your function creates your form, if you will.  Second, I like for my programs to easy to institute into your life.  Some guys can't get in 6 or 7 meals a day regardless of what their goals are, and I am mindful of that.  So whether you are trying to gain or lose, eating should not be a difficult task to work into your schedule.  To steal a quote Wendler once told me, eat to live, don't live to eat.  

With that said, let's talk about a conditioning program a fat guy that breaths heavy sitting on the couch use to get into shape.

Conditioning -

If you're a fat guy that needs to get in shape, then your focus should really be on improving your conditioning each week.  In the plan below that means 4 days fo conditioning a week.  Your strength gains and mass gains will take a back seat for now.  You can't serve two masters.  So pushing back from the table while also placing an emphasis hard cardio should be first.  Conditioning of some sort 4 days a week should be your focus, while lifting 2 days a week.  Your lifting should focus on something that also compliments your conditioning as well.  We'll get to that.

You don't have to condition 4 separate days from your lifting.  You can do conditioning after lifting, then do conditioning two other days all by itself.  It really all depends on what you feel comfortable with or want to do. and what your schedule will allow.

Second, you should also bear in mind that you need to EASE into hard conditioning.  Sprints, hill sprints, prowler pushes, bag work, and sled pulling can be hard on the connective tissue and joints if you don't prepare properly.  Overuse injuries from conditioning work will come very fast because of the repetitive motion of it all, and they don't go away very quickly even when treated properly.  So start modestly and work your way up.  If you feel an overuse injury coming on like shin splints or constant aches in your heel and such, discontinue whatever it is you are doing that causes that pain, and find something to replace it with.  If you need to give your legs a break have heavy bag work in there for two of the four days.  Or swim for one of those days.  If you can't swim, this is a great opportunity to go learn how.

So for the guy looking to improve his conditioning this is a split he could use if he were doing conditioning 4 days a week -

8 week fat guy plan to stop breathing heavy sitting on the couch -

Week 1 -
day 1 - hill sprints x 3 (rest is walk back down)
day 2 - heavy bag work - 2 minute rounds x 3, 120 seconds rest between rounds
day 3 - prowler pushing - 40 yard pushes x 5, 2 minutes between
day 4 - 60 yard sprints @ 65% speed x 5, rest is walk the 60 yards back

Notes - If you don't have a prowler, use a sled.  If you don't have a sled push a car.  If you don't have a car walk around the neighborhood, and fight the toughest looking dog you see for a solid 5 minutes.  

Week 2 -
hill sprints x 4
heavy bag work - 2 minute rounds x 4, 90 seconds between
prowler pushing - same as week 1
60 yard sprints - same as week 1 but at 75% speed

Week 3 -
hill sprints x 5
heavy bag work - 2 minute rounds x 5, 120 seconds between
prowler pushing - 40 yard pushes x 6, 2 minutes between
60 yard sprints @ 65% speed x 8

Week 4 - cut conditioning in half for the week
hill sprints x 8
heavy bag work - 2 minute rounds x 6, 90 seconds between rounds

Week 5 -
Week 1 - hill sprints x 6
Week 2 - tire sledge hammering - use a 12 or 16 pound sledge hammer - alternate each side.  20 seconds of sledge hammering, then rest 10 seconds and go to the other side.  When you compete both sides, that is 1 set.  Repeat this 4 more times.
Week 3 - bag work - 2 minute rounds x 6, 60 seconds between
Week 4 - 60 yard sprints @ 75% speed x 10

Week 6 -
hill sprints x 8
tire sledge hammering - 20 seconds or work, 10 seconds rest x 6 rounds
bag work - 2 minute rounds x 8, 90 seconds between
60 yard sprints @ 65% speed x 12

Week 7 -
hill sprints x 10
tire sledge hammering - 8 rounds
bag work - 2 minute rounds x 8, 90 seconds between
60 yard sprints @ 75% speed x 12

Week 8 -
hill sprints x 12
tired sledge hammering - 10 rounds
bag work - 2 minute rounds x 10, 90 seconds between
60 yard sprints @ 75% speed x 15

And the end of these 8 weeks you should feel very good, should have lost weight (even if you didn't modify your diet) and not breath (as) heavy sitting on the couch.

A very easy maintenance plan from here on out would simply be to do the hill sprints and bag work or tire sledge hammering each week.  If you want to get into even better shape add a single unit of exercise to each for four more weeks.  So do 13 hill sprints the next week, 11 rounds of tire hammering, 11 rounds of bag work, and 16 sprints.  At the end of those 4 weeks, cut the conditioning back to twice in 1 week again (like you did in week 4), and assess what you want to do from there.

Strength Training -

While conditioning your strength will probably take a bit of a dive at first.  This is normal.  Do not fret this.  Remember you can't serve two masters.  If conditioning is the goal right now, then scale back lifting to twice a week, narrow your movements down to a select few and maximize your training economy.  The big 4 is always going to be the squat, deadlift, bench, and overhead press.

Because your strength will be going up and down quite a bit until your adapt to the conditioning training, you can either do singles with the big 4, working up to what you feel like on that day to keep strength gains intact as much as possible, or use a program like 5/3/1 and just get the minimum reps in for the day.  I also suggest splitting those up so that you train your squat 1 week, and your deadlift the next week.  Your bench 1 week, and your overhead press the next week.

Week 1 -
day 1 - bench press
day 2 - squat

Week 2 -
day 1 - overhead press
day 2 - deadlift

Circuits to supplement your conditioning work - 

Since our emphasis is conditioning let's also put that to work after we are done with our main lift.  On upperbody days you will do a circuit involving 2 pushing and 2 pulling movements and on lower body days you will do a circuit for quads, hamstrings, abs, and glutes.

Upperbody Circuit -
Push ups - 5,10,15,20,15,10,5
Chin Ups - 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1
Dips - 3,6,9,12,15,12,9,6,3
Barbell Rows @ 135 or 185 (185 for stronger guys) - 3,6,9,12,15,12,9,6,3

There are a couple of ways you can run this.  You can do the first round (5 push ups, 1 chin up, 3 dips, and 3 rows all in a row) then rest for 2 minutes, or you can go through the whole thing non-stop.  You can do a mix and match of both as well.  Do two rounds non-stop then rest for 2 minutes.  Either way, just make sure you push yourself and WORK.

Lower Body Circuit - 
Walking Lunges - 5,10,15,20,25,20,15,10,5
Db Stiff Legs - 8 reps same weight each circuit 
Ab Wheel - 3,6,9,12,15,12,9,6,3
Glute-Ham Raises or Hypers - 10-20 reps each circuit 

Don't be surprised if this circuit puts you down for a few days.  Especially if you have been used to doing low rep work.  Conditioning will be hard with sore ass legs, but man up and get it done.  Even if you are slow and it is painful.  

Eating Less Made (sort of) Easy -

Just like I can narrow down a solid bulking diet to some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I can narrow down a diet for the blue collar trainer for losing bodyfat.  Will it suck?  At first, yes.  Anytime you go into a calorie deficit the first few weeks are the most awful.  You will be hungry, and I will give some tips for getting around this too.  However there will be times where you're just going to be hungry and you'll have to deal with that for a little while.  Focus on your goals and hunker down.  If that doesn't work have a buddy kick you in the junk and you won't think about eating for a few hours.  I haven't tried this method yet, but if you decide to try it make sure and it get on youtube for verification.

A few things that I know will help -

Chew Gum
Drink diet 7-up or water with lemon
Drink green tea
Eat sugar-free fat-free jell-o as a snack

4 meals a day -

Narrow down your eating to 4 solid meals a day.  Multiply your current bodyweight x 10 and divide that by 4.  So if you're 250, you get 2500 calories a day.  That means 625 calories per meal.  You should be shooting for 40-50 grams of protein per meal, so 160-200 calories of each meal should be coming from that protein source.  I don't really care what you do with the rest of the calories to be honest.  Fat loss is still about calories in versus calories out.  This is dieting at a really simple and doable level for everyone.  

What I do recommend is to eat your protein source first, then eat your vegetables (as many as possibly BTW) and eat carbs last.  How you set the timing of this all up doesn't matter to me.  You could do a breakfast, lunch, dinner setting and put your "snack" or "fourth meal" anywhere you want.  On workout days I suggest putting your two biggest meals before and after the workout.  On hard conditioning days I suggest eating your biggest meals at breakfast and lunch.  

I also don't count calories when it comes to vegetables.  Eat as many as your heart desires.  Count calories on your protein, fat, and carbs.  Cut out all coke/pops, candy, cookies, salad dressings, and desserts.  Drink one gallon of water a day, minimum.  The "dieting" stuff is really that simple, and it works.  If you want a protein shake mix it in water.  Just be mindful of the calories in it as it still counts towards your daily total.  

Conclusion - 

If you're busting a 38+ in the pants then maybe it's time to cut away from that 10 year bulk you've been on and put in some time on the hill or behind the prowler.  Maybe it's time to stop shoveling down 12 big-macs or 17 pieces of fried chicken on a daily basis.  I understand the journey for mass and strength, but there comes a point where you have to wake up and realize that well, you're just a fat guy now.  If that's all you ever want to be, then by all means don't even wipe the grease off of the keyboard and continue on with what you're doing.  However if or when you decide that enough is enough, and you want to feel more awesome than you have felt in a while then give the program a run for 8-10 weeks and get into the best shape you've been in in a while.  When you hit conditioning maintenance mode you can rebuild your strength to its former levels or close to it, and you'll feel better than ever to boot.  And finally you'll be able to sit on the couch without someone asking you if you just got done jumping rope in the attic.

And even if you're not a real fat guy, but just want to get in better shape, the program still works for you.   


  1. Alternatives to heavy bag?

  2. Good ol shadow boxing will work too, or jumping rope if you can muster it.

  3. I tried to post a comment and was not sure if it worked or not. What is a good hill length for starters?

  4. 20-30 yards will probably suffice at first.

  5. Good article. I went through this recently but I think I tried to do too much too soon with the conditioning. I've lost ~30 lbs. but I dropped alot of strength too. My strength has started to rebound now that I've put my conditioining on maintenance and I upped my calorie intake just a little. I think everyone would be well served to take your advice and ease into the conditioning slowly and progress slowly. The good news is I feel great now and my achilles tendonitis and foot and knee pain have virtually disappeared. Now I just need to get some of my strength back while maintaining some conditioning and keeping my bodyfat levels reasonable.


  6. That's generally the problem with most of us Sean. We try to attack the conditioning too hard too soon and end up with some serious overuse problems.

  7. This is great info! I think it should be placed with the "most popular" posts. It may not have generated as many comments as some but the information is close to vital for a number of lifters who've been on a ten or twenty (or more) year bulk. Thx.

  8. What distance for the hill sprints?

  9. Online programs contain fat loss exercise regimes. The regimes are designed help individuals loss fat and to help them stay fit and healthy.
    acai plus

  10. How many days a week do you run the circuits?

  11. Multi-joint exercises like deadlifts and squats also give a killer core workout while working a lot of other muscle groups as phenq safe