Lose Fat Like You’re on Crack part II, the Interview

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Interviews, Training
Tags: , , ,

Originally published at Metabolic Alchemy here.

So without hesitation I will go right into some questions I’ve had about the program along with Marc’s answers in RED. I invite you to comment on this post with any questions you may have about it as well and I’ll be sure to get the answers!

Marc, first of all thanks for taking the time to respond to these questions. I understand this program has been on the net for a couple of years hasn’t it? Have you had a lot of clients stick with this program all the way to end? What were their results? I understand diet plays a huge role but all things being equal what can a person expect, in the “jump up and down naked in front of the mirror and see what you look like” department? Have you completed this program yourself?

The program was originally published almost four years ago, but it’s funny because initially it kind of flew under the radar.  It took a while for enough people to actually try (and complete) the program, then it just started snowballing, at this point you can pretty much go to any popular fitness forum online and search for the program title and come up with people’s results and discussion.

Just a few weeks ago I was working out at a 24 Hour Fitness, and noticed some guy sweating his ass off doing what appeared to be a pretty cool circuit workout. I was doing 10 sets of pull ups, and this guy was pretty much right in front of me, so I really had no choice but to eyeball his workout during my rest periods. After the workout started looking a little too familiar…I asked him what program he was following. The poor dude could barely speak, but through his crosseyed panting I was able to decipher that he got the program from an article on Mind and Muscle by some guy named Marc. He was pretty surprised when I introduced myself. If I remember correctly, he said he had lost something like 25lbs following the program.

So yeah, at this point it’s gotten pretty popular. I’ve run countless people through variations of the program over the years. I’ve seen some pretty crazy numbers, which I hate throwing out because people always love to yell bullshit anytime a coach or a trainer starts citing above average results. But generally speaking, I’ve had people lose 2% body fat per week for 6 straight weeks; one girl even lost 4’’ around her waist in the first 3 weeks.

The thing that surprises people the most about this program is the maintenance or even gain of lean body mass along with the high amounts of fat loss. Most people will have to drop their weights significantly lower than what they would expect for the first 1-2 weeks, then by week 3 most people can expect to be back at baseline strength, then by weeks 4-6 almost everybody reaches levels of strength and lean body mass beyond where they started, coupled with an insane increase in work capacity.

And yes, I’ve gone through a quite a few variations of this workout myself, mainly for the sake of trying to find flaws and improve it, or when I have a photo shoot coming up and have to get down from my maintenance level to about 4-5% body fat.

I’m also wondering if you’ve ever made any changes, significant or otherwise, to the program. Especially in a busy gym, the rack might be available for a set but then you come back to the next exercise you need it for and someone’s busy doing curls for the ladies in rack. Perhaps just sticking with dumbbells is a solution to this? Which brings me to a very important question. What sort of weight are we working with here? For an intermediate trainee, doing hang cleans, is this 70, 80 or 90 percent of one’s 1RM?

I’ve made quite a few “upgrades” to the program over the years. The original program is still great, but I’ve certainly made some tweaks. I have a version created specifically for crowded gyms; it’s not that hard to do with a little creativity if you keep the proper movement planes intact from the original workout, that is a crucial part. And yes, the whole thing can be done with dumbbells and an adjustable bench; you don’t even have to move away from your little zone of ass kicking the whole workout.

As for an intermediate trainee, it really depends on the person and specifics such as their mitochondrial density, but most people should start out at a weight they could comfortably do a set of 20 reps with, which will typically be around 60% of 1RM (although it could really range from 50%-70% depending on the person). Now this weight will probably be a little too easy for most people above a beginner level, but that’s what we want for the first time through each of the two different workouts. Just focus on keeping rest periods down and form intact. If you get through the workout ok at that level, then add 5-10% load to each exercise the next workout, and continue to do so until you can’t increase load, or follow the workout protocol properly. You don’t HAVE to increase load every workout to make progress here, you just need to do something to make the workout harder…which is why the program has a built in decrease in rest periods and the eventual addition of rope jumping.

Can you also talk about the inclusion of the overhead squat? This is by far one of the more advanced moves in the program. Most people I know who squat regularly will still rarely practice the overhead squat. While it’s a very useful lift do you have recommendations as to how to approach this if they’re new to it? Any alternatives to this lift that would still result in a positive net effect at the end of the workout?

I always make sure people can do this properly with just their arms in the air, or holding a broomstick before I let them do this. If the arms fall forward, heels come up, sternum drops, knees dive in or shoot forward, etc, they probably need to do some corrective work before incorporating this. If you can do it, it’s a great metabolically demanding exercise; you literally feel every muscle in your body contracting…which is why I chose it. But if it can’t be done perfectly with bodyweight, we don’t want somebody trying to perform it under load in a fatigued state, that’s just asking for trouble. You can regress this with a dumbbell front squat, or even a dumbbell side squat if needed.

The glute ham raise is also another great exercise that requires a specific piece of equipment and I’m wondering what you’d recommend to someone without access to that device?

Most gyms have some place that you can rig up a variation of this. Usually you can face away from a lat pulldown station, knees on the bench and heels locked under the knee pads. Sometimes the knee pads don’t go down low enough to really secure the ankles, or the bench is too narrow at that end to fit both knees on comfortably…then you have to get creative.

Last week at a small gym I ran into both of these issues, and was able to place an aerobics step perpendicular on the seatpad with a rubber yoga mat on top of it to keep the grip tape on the step from drawing blood on my knees. This maneuver is something that can be done at most gyms. Now this is a limited version of the traditional/dedicated Glute Ham Raise, its really more of a Ham/Gastroc raise, and its not as much of a compound movement as the original, but its still a great exercise and plenty metabolically demanding.

The hip pull through is also another great movement, can you describe that a little bit or provide a link to the proper execution? What should one be focused on during this movement?

There’s a few different ways to do this, I teach it to my clients a little different than the traditional powerlifting version where you round your back and are looking through your legs at the bottom. I teach it more like a normal deadlift. At the top, you want to be leaned very far forward with your hips and knees locked out so the body forms a straight line (just leaned forward from dorsiflexion of the ankle), so that you’d fall over if the weight wasn’t heavy enough. Initiate the descent by driving your hips back and letting the knees bend and shoulders fall forward. Reach your arms as far back behind your legs as you can at the bottom, but keep your head up and lower back arched, so that the shoulders are only slightly in front of the knees at the bottom. Then initiate the concentric phase by driving the hips forward and upward. Always initiate both directions with the hips. Be sure to brace the abdominals the entire time. Kind of like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMTo9ZUDKgY

One of the brilliant pieces of this program is your inclusion of some rotator cuff work. You mention, “This is included mainly because if I see one more person with underdeveloped external rotators and corresponding humeral internal rotation, I’m going to quit and become an astronaut. Always train the weaker side first, if one exists.” What does someone look or move like that has underdeveloped external rotators? How is the seated external rotation working differently than the cable external rotation? The first movement I suppose involves more support of the weight on a vertical plane while the movement is taking place while the cable rotation is actually rotating against resistance. Can you say a little bit more about that?

Generally speaking, isolation exercises are a waste of time in a metabolic workout…but this serves a specific purpose as you stated, and is done at the end, which provides people a chance to catch their breath and regain their sanity before heading out the door.

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on just with a static posture analysis, but typically protracted shoulders and an internally rotated humerus will be a decent predictor of overstretched, underactive, or just plain weak rotator cuff musculature (among other things, this is intentionally simplistic).  I wrote a pretty in depth article about that here for those interested: http://www.mindandmuscle.net/node/285

During a seated external rotation, the humerus is adducted, which places the teres minor in a more optimal position for contraction compared to the other muscles of the cuff. During a cable external rotation (I often regress this to a standing dumbbell external rotation as some people are too weak to even use the lightest plate on a cable machine for this exercise), the humerus is abducted, so the infraspinatus is in a more optimal position to dominate the movement. Now this doesn’t mean that the entire rotator cuff won’t be working in both movements, we’re just changing the emphasis. From my experience, the infraspinatus tends to respond better to moderate rep ranges (6-10) and the teres minor to higher reps (12-15).

I imagine very few of us have put the time we need into this kind of rehab, if you will. Are there other very common disturbances you see that you think are important to address?

In the general desk-sitting population, I always see tight hip flexors and inhibited glute medius muscles. Most people would do well to address these issues, stretch the hip flexors before the workout and do some glute medius activation drills before and during the workout (between rounds while resting). Also, sometimes just stretching the illiopsoas musculature doesn’t solve the problem, and you need to stretch the rectus femoris as well, which is a bit more challenging of a position to get in than a traditional hip flexor stretch. Of course some people don’t need to be doing this at all, but these are extremely common problems.

I notice you have a split squat AND an elevated full lunge in this program. Can you talk a little about what the lifter should focus on (which muscle groups and movement of that part) during each unique movement? A lot of people assume that the lunge in a stationary position is the same thing basically as a split squat and if you could help discern the difference I think you’d help a lot of people out.

In my Body of Evidence blog, I just covered proper split squat form with pics here. As for the elevated full lunge, its basically a way to ease into doing full lunges on the floor, doing it elevated up on to a step makes it easier to get to the proper depth of knee flexion. Most trainees are too inflexible or uncoordinated to do full lunges on the ground, and when you’re doing it wrong, it can be rough on the knees. And half lunges are for pussies.

One general question here to finish this off. How long should one expect this to take for completion? As the trainee progresses to the point where there is NO rest, should they try and stop to breathe for a while if they know they won’t be able to complete a full set of 10 for the next exercise without a break? And of course, I think it’s important to ask about failure in general: What should a trainee do if they are consistently only getting five reps of something before they just poop out? Adjusting the weight will be necessary but sometimes on an extremely intense diet they may not even have enough juice. Is it important to finish that set, stopping to breathe and prepare again or should they just call it quits at 7 reps and move on to the next exercise?

Most people get through this workout in 30-40 minutes. Depends on how little rest you can get away with, and obviously the workout gets a little longer as you go due to the inclusion of extra sets and rope jumping.

Initially, like the first 1-2 weeks, taking longer rest is fine, but if you started with a light enough weight you should be able to get through it on the prescribed rest periods. After a couple of weeks into it, don’t take longer rest, just get through as many reps as you can and move on to the next exercise. If you get 5 clean reps for a given set, make sure you get 6 reps next workout. People should not be training to failure on this program; they should leave one rep in the hole when possible, or at least make sure that the last rep was still perfect form.

I think that’s about all I have to ask about on this program specifically. Did you have anything generally interesting you’ve been doing in the gym you wanted to share with us? Any breakthroughs you’ve been writing about you want to include a link to? Any other programs you think are worth looking into that you want to share a link to?

As far as training breakthroughs…not really. I’ve recently been enjoying some of Christian Thibaudeau’s Perfect Rep methods which I interviewed him about here. Aside from that, I’m working on a fitness DVD with a couple of people in California targeting a specific niche that I can’t discuss yet…keep an eye on my blog for its release. I also recently designed a pretty cool new supplement, the first of its kind…also which I can’t discuss specifics of yet but I’ll post info on my blog as soon as production is finalized.

Thanks again for your time Marc, it’s great having more information about this kick-ass program.

Absolutely, thanks for having me.

  1. imre says:

    Hi Marc, I am an “old horse” searching for a workout for my busy schedule(and new start again). I liked PHA style, but without being too cheesy, LFLYC is the best workout I found. Thank You.
    Made a search, and in some forums I found that you was writing an ebook about it(in 2008).
    Where can I by this ebook? I would rather not write here why, but it is realy important to me.
    Best Regards

    • The eBook has been put on hold for a DVD project, although the book is about 80% complete. The video is in the works, and although it won’t be exactly this workout, it will be comparable. I’ll post info on the blog here when it becomes available. I hope to get the eBook done shortly after we finish this project.

      If you have any specific questions about the program, feel free to post them up.

  2. Dan says:

    Hi Marc,

    so did you release the ebook (or dvd)? I’m looking for a version for lflyoc for busy gyms.


  3. Dan says:

    Sorry last thing… can you please edit my last comment to remove my email from the “name” part.


    • imre says:

      Dan, maybe better to send mail directly, it seems hi is not very often here.. I am afraid of waiting log tima for ebook or dvd, etraining should be much quicker

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