The Get Lean Quick Scheme

Here’s what to do if you have only 7 days to look good!
By John Paul Catanzaro

You want to look good but don’t have much time? Here’s a strategy that is useful before a wedding, anniversary, birthday, holiday, vacation, trip, speaking engagement, photo shoot, competition, reunion, hot date, you name it. It takes a week of some serious discipline, though. Can you do it? If you’ve got the will, I got the way…

It’s not that radical, really. All I want you to do is to completely remove your primary energy sources of carbohydrates and fats. That’s right, absolutely none. You’ll survive - it’s only for one week! So what’s left to eat? Well, there’s protein, protein, and more protein. Oh yeah, and you can drink water as well! You see, I told you it’s not that bad!

Tip #1: Drink large amounts of water (at least 8-10 12 oz. glasses a day – to calculate the number of ounces a day, multiply your weight by 0.5) on this plan. This will saturate your muscle cells and help to shed that layer of water beneath your skin. In fact, if you do not drink enough water, it upsets your sodium balance and you actually end up retaining water under the skin making you look bloated and fat! Remember, caffeine can dehydrate you, which also contributes to that puffy look under the skin so drink plenty of H2O.

Now, you just can’t consume any type of protein. It must be the lean, dry, white stuff like tuna, chicken, turkey or pork. That means no red meat, dairy, eggs, or even protein shakes. Remember no fat so make sure to consume only water-packed tuna, chicken or turkey breast (not the leg), and trim all excess pork fat.

The fact that you’re eating lean meats with no extra fat or carbohydrate does a few neat things to your body. First, the thermogenic effect (i.e., the production of heat leading to fat loss) of chewing your food is very important. That’s why I want you to eat your protein and not drink it. Also, as you may be aware, protein has the greatest thermic effect of all the macronutrients (see below) – another plus. And think about it, less energy in and more energy out equates to weight loss. That can be good, but it can also be bad. Read on.

Note: The greatest amount of energy (as high as 30%) is required to process (digest, transport, metabolize and store) protein. Carbohydrates and fats are much lower at a maximum of 10% and 3% respectively.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Your system will start to tap into your body fat stores for energy. That’s good. Through the process of gluconeogenesis, your body will also catabolize muscle tissue for energy. That’s bad. However, you can curtail this process somewhat by keeping your protein stores elevated. But without any carbs or fats, most people will feel like crap! That’s the ugly part. I have a solution though.

They’re called stimulants and boy will you need them! Our old friends of caffeine and ephedrine (which is still available in Canada by the way) come in very useful, but I do not recommend this stuff loosely. You must qualify. Caffeine and ephedrine supplementation is not meant for cardiac or adrenal patients. The greater the risk, the greater the reward, and this stack does come with a definite risk even though it is legal. Of course, there are far more adverse events from the use of over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen, but that’s another story for another time. Assuming you are a healthy individual with no contraindications for its use, one week at a low dose of ephedrine and caffeine should pose very little risk. Please check with your health-care provider beforehand.

Three other supplements that help on this plan include a quality multivitamin/mineral (this is good insurance especially when fruits and vegetables are non-existent in your diet), as well as branched-chain amino acids and glutamine (these guys are extremely beneficial when carb intake is low; you can take them all day long, i.e., upon awakening, between meals and before going to bed, but they are particularly useful before, during and following your workouts.)

Life Extension Mix Caps       MRM BCAA+G4EverFit Caffeine Ephedrine

Key supplements include a quality mulitvitamin/mineral, BCAA’s + Glutamine, and the popular fat loss stack of caffeine and ephedrine HCL, which is still available in Canada in 8mg doses.

Another thing people do not realize when they are preparing for a special event is that the motivation alone will help them succeed. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the excitement is enough to get people through.Garden of Life Primal Defense

Tip #2: If you plan to travel to a third-world country, start taking probiotics (i.e., “friendly” bacteria) a week before your journey. This is a good preventative measure to help repel parasites that you may encounter while you are away.

Sail the protein ship, but don’t go overboard!

Quantity of intake must be relatively low. That means you’ll consume one can of tuna or one chicken breast only but you’ll do that frequently, at least six times a day (every 2.5 to 3 hours.) Grill the meat in advance so that you can quickly reheat it when it’s time to eat. Grazing all day long will keep that metabolic flame stoked!

Oh, oh, man overboard!

Plenty of water is required to flush out the byproducts of protein metabolism. Also, keep in mind that each gram of carbohydrate carries about three grams of water with it so if you’re getting no carbs then you’re getting no water. Make sure to drink cold spring water (not distilled as it will further deplete your mineral stores) all day long. As far as hot drinks go, I do allow people to have black coffee if they wish but I prefer green tea instead.

Also, consider establishing a base tan (fake bake if you will – just remember to build it up gradually over a few days); get your hair cut midway through the week so that it grows in a bit and looks more natural come “show” time; visit your dentist for that six-month cleaning; and take care of all that hygiene stuff like trimming your nails and maybe shaving or waxing that ape-like body of yours … if you’re so inclined.

This strategy alone will shrink-wrap your body in two ways. First, by removing all that subcutaneous water beneath your skin during the week-long protein-only fest, and then by superhydrating your muscle cells when you go carb crazy the following week. (I’ll explain in a minute.) The first week you’ll look like a smaller, leaner version of your former self while the second week, your muscles will fill out and you’ll look like a pumped up, muscular God!

Tip #3: Don’t tan too fast. Burning even slightly will cause edema (the swelling of tissues that promote healing) and can leave you looking puffy! Build up that tan gradually to show off your muscularity. A good tan looks healthy; a bad one does not!

All aboard the overtrain.

Proper training will be important this week. You actually want to overtrain (or more appropriately, you need to induce a state of overreaching, which is basically a short-term, transient form of overtraining but why get technical?) In other words, if you are used to training three days a week, I want you to train six days this week. They won’t be long sessions though, but they will be intense.

Contrary to popular belief, use low repetitions in your training because quite frankly, you won’t have the energy to perform tons of reps. Pick the big boys though. Use squats, deadlifts, chins, dips, presses and rows, and structure your program in this manner:

Day 1 – Chest & Back #1
Day 2 – Legs & Abs #1
Day 3 – Delts & Arms #1
Day 4 – Off
Day 5 – Chest & Back #2
Day 6 – Legs & Abs #2
Day 7 – Delts & Arms #2
Day 8 – Event

Sample Routine

Day 1
A1) Incline Bench Press
A2) Subscapularis Wide-Grip Pull-Ups
Use a wide, pronated (palms forward) grip on the bar. Pull your body up until your chin clears the bar, then push yourself away from the bar as you lower.
B1) Flat Dumbbell Press (semi-supinated)
Palms are facing each other.
B2) Seated Cable Row

Day 2
A1) Back Squat
A2) Lying Leg Curl
Keep the feet neutral (neither pointed in or out) and plantarflexed (pointed away).
B1) Romanian Deadlift
B2) Sicilian Crunch
Lay on a Swiss ball or AbMat and crunch upwards with a dumbbell or weight plate resting on your chest. At the top of the movement, extend your arms and keep them in-line with your trunk as you lower slowly to the bottom.

Sicilian Crunch 1Sicilian Crunch 2Sicilian Crunch 3Sicilian Crunch 4

Day 3
A1) Parallel-Bar Dips
A2) Mid-Incline Hammer Curls
B1) Standing Military Press
B2) Seated Zottman Curls
Raise the weight with a supinated (palms up) grip and lower with a pronated (palms down) grip.

Day 4
Take this day off from training. This would be a good time to go for a tan, haircut, maybe do some shopping for clothes, toiletry, etc. and pack your suitcase if you’re going away, take care of some that “hygiene” stuff, and arrange for a dental cleaning if you can.

Day 5
A1) Bent-Over Row
A2) Low Incline Dumbbell Press (semi-supinated)
Set the bench at 10-20 degrees and use a semi-supinated (palms facing each other) grip.
B1) Sternum Parallel-Grip Pulldowns
B2) Flat Cable Flyes (pronated)
Position a flat bench in the middle (perpendicular) of a cable crossover unit. Attach a rope to each low-pulley and use a pronated (palms forward) grip. The elbows should be slightly bent and the wrists straight and firm as you perform the flye motion.

Day 6
A1) Bent-Knee Deadlift
A2) Seated Leg Curl
B1) Russian Good Mornings
Adopt a wide grip on the bar and a wide stance on the floor. Lower into a quarter squat and then keep your knees fixed at that angle rotating only around the hips. Make sure to keep your back flat (don’t round your back) and stick your chest out.
B2) Hanging Leg Raises

Day 7
A1) Seated Preacher EZ-Bar Reverse Curls
A2) Close-Grip Bench Press
B1) Close-Grip Chin-Ups
Use a supinated (palms facing you) grip and position your hands about 4-6 inches apart.
B2) Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

Take plenty of low rep (below 5) warm-ups progressing up to your working weight, which you will perform for only 2-3 sets of no more than 4 or 5 reps. Raise the weight as fast as possible and lower it slowly under control. Take as much rest as you need between sets, but make sure to complete your workout in under an hour (30-45 minutes should be enough for this routine) and you’re good to go.

Tip #4: Structure your program in a vertical sequence pairing antagonistic (opposite) muscle groups/exercises/movements for optimal effect. (Note the “A” and “B” exercise pairs in the above program.) Doing so will increase rest intervals allowing for complete recovery and greater recruitment of high threshold fibers while promoting greater range of motion and balance around the joint(s). All of this will increase strength and performance especially when energy levels might be low.

Wow, what a feeling!

This plan gives you permission not to train while you are away and actually grow and get stronger while you supercompensate (i.e., the first half of the week is necessary to recover from all that intense training and the second half of the week is used to overcompensate so that you return from your vacation bigger and stronger.) It allows you to enjoy your holidays or event since you can consume what you like, when you like, with absolutely no restrictions! Your muscles will simply soak it all up. They are like sponges at this point, and from my experience you’ve got a good three or four days (if not longer) of filling out the right way. The analogy I give is like the first time you take creatine – it’s that kind of feeling where your muscles swell up with fluid as if you’re connecting a garden hose to them! Also, you can ride the anabolic wave of increased testosterone and insulin while a jacked-up thyroid will keep fat gain at bay!

So there you have it. Battle through one tough week of boring food and intense training and you will be rewarded in the end with a lean, rock-hard physique.

About The Author

John Paul Catanzaro is a CSEP Certified Exercise Physiologist with a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. He owns and operates a private facility in Richmond Hill, Ontario providing training and nutritional consulting services. John Paul has authored two books, The Elite Trainer (2011) and Mass Explosion (2013), and has released two DVDs, Stretching for Strengthening (2003) and Warm-Up to Strength Training (2005), which have sold copies worldwide, been featured in several magazines, and have been endorsed by many leading experts. In 2013, John Paul released two new webinars, Strength Training Parameters and Program Design and Body Composition Strategies, providing the latest cutting-edge information to fitness professionals. For additional information, visit his website at www.CatanzaroGroup.com or call 905-780-9908.

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