Your Workouts Reviewed: Building Muscle, Burning Fat
Our experts assess a reader's routine crafted to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously.
Everyone's got a workout of their own—their "go-to" routine. But is your routine good enough? We asked our Men's Fitness Facebook friends if they had a killer routine to share and subject to the scrutiny of our readers. The big catch? Our team of training experts also review it, critique it and tweak it if necessary.
Steven Fisher: Men's Fitness Facebook Friend
Goal: Gain strength while maintaining muscle mass and losing body fat. The body parts being trained are performed back to back and given 90 seconds of rest before repeating.
>> Flat Bench Press/Lat Pull Downs: 4 sets of 4 reps, 1 set of 6 reps, 1 set of 8 reps
>> Incline Dumbbell Press/Weighted Rows: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
>> Flat Flyes/Pull Ups: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
>> Incline Flyes/Straight Arm Lat Pull Down with Rope: 3 sets of 12 reps
Tuesday [Arms and Abs]
>> Barbell Curl/Weighted Dips: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
>> Dumbbell Hammer Curl/Overhead Triceps Extension: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
>> Reverse Grip curl (EZ-Bar)/Skullcrushers: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
>> Single Arm Concentration Curl/Rope Push Down: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
>> Weighted Ab Crunches/Hanging Leg Raises/Hanging Oblique Crunches: 4 sets of each to failure
Wednesday [Legs and Shoulders]
>> Squat/Military Dumbbell Press/Dumbbell Side Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps
>> Dead Lift/Barbell Front Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps
>> Weighted calf raises/ Shrugs: 4 sets to failure
Friday [Body Weight Circuit/Abs]
>> Push-ups/Failure Squat Jumps/Failure Wall Squats/Failure Box Jumps: 3 sets to failure
>> Repeat Ab Circuit from "Tuesday"
Expert Assessment #1
Pros: "Love that you're pairing contrasting muscle groups. It's an efficient way to get a lot of work done. = In fact, your exercise selection and pairings are mostly spot on."
Cons: "Oh boy. How do you squat jump to failure? You just can't get off the ground? That's AH-ma-zing. And how do you box jump to failure? You just smash into the box and then you're done? Hahahha. I'd pay to see this workout.
Sometimes you do 3 sets of 8-10. Sometimes you do 4 sets of 8-10. Sometimes you do 3 sets of 10. Does this just depend on how much you like an exercise? 4 sets of 4 I'm cool with. But then 1 set of 6? And then one set of 8? You're all over the board, brotha."
Comments: "Clean up your rep ranges. You could go 3 x 8-10 for every lift in this program (then, in four weeks, mix that up.) Start your workouts with the most neurologically demanding exercises, then work towards simplicity. For example, on Monday, you'd want to start with pull ups and do lat pulls in set 3. Don't squat and deadlift in the same day—it'll hulk smash your spine. BUT, give your legs due diligence/their own day (you can pair up front squats with leg curls, for example). That might mean chest/back, legs, and a shoulders/abs split. Also, get rid of your Friday body weight workout—it's rediculous and off-program.
Your general outline is solid, but you're just trying to do too much, brah. The best workouts should look simple on paper but be difficult as hell in the weight room."
Expert Assessment #2
Pros: "You have a lot of the movements I like to see in training programs. Pull-ups, Bench Press, Military Press, Squats and Deadlifts all make an appearance throught the week and that makes me happier than a power lifter at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Your leg and shoulder day is incredibly gutsy with you performing 12 sets of squats during the workout. You've added in some bodyweight metabolic work on Friday which is a nice way to round out the week and four days of work with three days of rest is a nice training-to-recovery ratio."
Cons: "While I like these types of training splits for gaining mass, your goal is to maintain muscle while losing fat. With that goal in mind I would consider four days of total body training. You appear to have rep scheme ADD as they are all over the place: 4x4, 1x6, 3x10, 4xfailure. And while I said your shoulder and leg day was gutsy, I didn't say it was smart. It's very hard to get quality squats and deadlifts in the same day, especially when you also have a demanding lift like military press in there as well. And, again, given your goal you should save isolation moves like weighted calf raises, rope pull-downs and concentration curls for a phase when you are focusing on hypertrophy."
Comments: "When it comes to maintaining muscle mass when cutting body fat the key factor is not actually your training, it's your nutrition. Make sure you are in a small caloric deficit while keeping your protein levels high. Muscle is not a very efficient fuel source so unless you are grossly undereating, you should not have a problem holding onto that hard earned mass. From a training perspective consider simplifying your workouts. Try sticking with a couple of big lifts in the strength rep ranges (5 sets of 3-5 reps of deadlift and bench press, for instance) and finish up your workout with something metabolic like a barbell complexes, body-weight circuits or modified strongman training. The stress of the heavy training will keep muscle on you, while the heart-pounding pace of the metabolic stuff will shred some fat. Try that while keeping an eye on your diet and you'll be powerlifter strong and underwear model lean."