This week's switch from volume to intensity training was pretty brutal. During the deadlifts in the above session I was pushing so hard I did a little bit of sick in my mouth. Sorry, I know that's not the most pleasant thing in the world but going up about 10% in weight – as you do for this second four-week phase – deep-fries your central nervous system, which leads to a raft of nasty in-session physiological responses.
So why the change in training? Coach Dave Fletcher explains. 'The second phase is focused on intensity, which means the weights will be heavier but there will be fewer reps and sets and the rest periods will be longer. The focus here will be on strength and power while maintaining the endurance gains and leanness achieved in phase one.
'All the routines chosen have been designed not only to improve your body composition, ie reduce body fat levels and increase lean muscle mass, but also to help you make significant gains in functional strength and endurance. This means you’ll end up a stronger, leaner, fitter, more supple athlete.'
What makes the deadlifts so tough is that straight afterwards you do static lunge jumps with a set of heavy dumbbells. In fact, the legs moves in this session were so bad it made the first shoulders superset seem easy – well, at least for the first set. Then that got painfully tough too.
Thing is, if you want real results, you have to a spend a lot of time in the training hurt locker. I hope this doesn't discourage you. I like trying to find out what my body is capable of, and I know that if I push through these workouts I'll end up fitter than ever before. Living in the moment during a session also helps. If I convince myself I just need to get through a superset rather than thinking about the ridiculous number of total reps I have to complete, it makes the whole thing a bit more manageable.
Eating wise, I'm finding that the paleoesque diet Fletcher and nutritionist Sharmain Davis have me on is fairly easy to follow. I love massive steaks, fruit and greens so I'm in food heaven. It is, however, expensive. I haven't managed to save any of the money I was spending on booze, clothes, chocolate, snowboard gear, etc because I'm spanking it all on expensive cuts of meat.
All of the training and careful eating is definitely working though. I did a 10K run this week in 41min 38sec – that's 20sec faster than any 10K training run I've ever done. I've also noticed that over the past couple of weeks I've been able to pull a few tricks on my snowboard that I've been trying for years but have never actually landed. I have no hard proof but I believe it's to do with the explosive elements of my training (and maybe abstaining from booze, too!). My body fat is down to 9% and my weight is 84kg, so I'm definitely getting closer to hitting all my targets.
Here's the workouts for the last stage and how to do them. The chest one sounds epic. Looking forward to that!
Weeks five to eight – Intensity training
Do 3 reps of the first move and 6 reps of the second
Three minutes between sets
DAY 1 - LEGS AND SHOULDERS
Barbell stiff leg deadlift, bodyweight hamstring curl
Barbell shoulder press, dumbbell explosive turn and press
Barbell good morning, gym ball hamstring curl
Dumbbell seated shoulder press, dumbbell seated lateral raise
DAY 2 - INTERVALS
10x10sec hill sprint (10sec rest between sets)
5x30sec run (60sec rest between sets)
3x60sec run (90sec rest between sets)
DAY 3 - CHEST AND ABS
Barbell bench press, bodyweight explosive press-up
Hanging straight leg raise, thick band drag
Weighted dip, dumbbell incline chest press
Bodyweight abs rollout, dumbbell sit-up press
DAY 4 - REST
DAY 5 - KICKBOXING
2x3min round (90sec rest between sets)
3x2 minute round (60sec rest between sets)
4x1 minute round (30sec rest between sets)
5x30sec round (15sec rest between sets)
6x15sec round (10sec rest between sets)
*If you can't do this for whatever reason, do the below treadmill or rowing intervals
Treadmill - adjust the incline to 5˚
3min run, 1min walk
2min run, 1min walk
1min run, 1min walk
Rest for 3 minutes and then repeat
10x50m sprint, aiming to complete each in under 10sec, with a 20sec rest between sprints.
DAY 6 - LEGS AND BACK
Barbell Back squat, dumbbell static lunge jump
Weighted close-grip chin-up, dumbbell single-arm row
Barbell front squat, plate-loaded leg press
Barbell row, overhand chin-up (jumping)
DAY 7 - REST
You can find Sharmain Davis's nutrition advice at the bottom of the first blog. Here's Dave Fletcher's:
1. 175-200g of meat/fish per main meal. Stick to chicken, turkey, salmon and any fish with white flesh.
2. Snack on coconut chunks, unsalted nuts, dark fruits and oat cakes with almond butter.
3. On training days, consume 50g of whey protein (ideally with glutamine and no carbs) five minutes after a workout.
4. On training days, consume up to 50g of carbohydrates with your post-workout meal. Stick to sweet potato, brown rice, rye bread and quinoa.
5. Eat steamed green veg and lemon juice with each meal.
For more on Sharmain Davis, go to maxitone.com/asktheexperts
For more on Dave Fletcher, go to theodysseyway.co.uk
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Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.