How to Get Lean FAST.

How to Get Lean FAST.

Got some body fat you want to shed, but not sure how to approach it? Read on to learn how to get lean FAST (no pun intended).


The Dilemma

The biggest thing that held me back for many years with dieting was fear of losing my “gainz,” bro.

Seriously, every time I’d start to diet down, I’d feel flat, psych myself out and go right back to the perpetual “bulking” style of eating for mass.

Did it work? Sort of.. I got pretty big, but I also carried more body fat than I should have.

Essentially, I was choosing to look swole in a hoodie.

Nothing wrong with that… I love the feeling of being big. But there are many drawbacks to that life, including health issues.

Metabolic Inflexibility and Insulin Resistance

Eating excessive carbohydrates is great for putting on size…

It is absolutely not optimal for overall health.

It only took some simple bloodwork to let me know how seriously this can jack you up.

My Triglycerides and Cholesterol were all jacked up, my body fat had gone up (despite training very hard), and my energy was absolute shit without mega-doses of caffeine.

My sleep sucked. I did not feel healthy at all. I was also at my all-time biggest and strongest….

Eating excessive carbohydrates (along with low cardiovascular fitness) can wreck your metabolic flexibility; or, the ability to switch from fat to carbohydrate oxidation and vice versa.

In other words, metabolic inflexibility is an inability to adapt fuel oxidation to fuel availability.

A more ominous term for this is Insulin Resistance.

Insulin Resistance essentially means that your cells cannot respond properly to insulin, and therefore cannot use Glucose in your bloodstream for energy.

This is bad news, as your glucose levels aren’t meant to be elevated all the time.

Check out my training programs for both men and women.

The Solution: Modified Protein Sparing Fast (PSMF)

The endless debate of which diet strategy works the best and/or is healthiest is tiresome.

I do not EVER allow myself to become dogmatic about any of this stuff, and neither should you.

In my opinion (backed up by research and experience), the Modified Protein Sparing Fast is the optimal way to get lean very fast (4-6 weeks), AND improve metabolic flexibility/insulin resistance.

The goal of a PSMF is to lose body fat quickly while preserving as much muscle as possible.

How Does a Protein Sparing Fast Work?

how to get leaner diet

This method of dieting is pretty simple: It should be noted that this is my version of this diet, and may slightly differ from others.

  • Eat very low calories (800-1200cal)
  • Keep Protein very high, at least 1g/pound of body weight
  • All meals should be based around protein.
  • Eat single ingredient, nutrient dense whole foods almost exclusively
  • Cut out ALL refined sugars and processed garbage.
  • Eat minimal carbs, as low as possible
  • Shoot for 3-4 meals/day.
  • If you’re training hard, allow yourself 300-500 additional calories right before or after training.
  • NO cheat days. This is a short term diet, cheat days are not acceptable.
  • 6 week max if calories are very low.

Refining the Details

These are some additional details that can be helpful:

  • A mostly “carnivore” style diet works really well for the PSMF. In particular, red meat is very nutrient dense, high protein and leaves you feeling satiated (full).
  • If you’re used to being full of glycogen and pumped 24/7, you WILL feel and look “flat” for a short time. TRUST THE PROCESS.
  • If you look flat one week in, you didn’t lose muscle. You just didn’t have as much as you thought!
  • Make sure you’re eating nutrient dense food, salt/electrolytes, and a lot of water.
  • Caffeine can help a lot.. being in a deficit, the energy boost will be welcome.
  • If you want to take pictures/peak the diet, spend a day limiting water and salt intake, eat a TON of carbs (no salt), and the next day you should be looking shredded and a lot more “full” when you lift.
  • Being hungry is part of dieting to get lean. Accept it from the beginning, and don’t start unless you’re 100% all-in.
  • If you’re feeling excessively flat and fatigued, allow one “refeed” day, where you eat additional carbs to let the muscles restock glycogen. Don’t overdo it….

Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness

back exercise big back farmer carry

The other side to this coin is your level of cardiovascular fitness.

As far as metabolic flexibility and insulin resistance, studies have shown that high levels of cardiovascular fitness improve and deter insulin resistance and improve metabolic flexibility.

This is another “dilemma” that a lot of gym bros have. Training your cardiovascular system will not crush your gains, bro… when done properly and in moderation.

In fact, increasing the power of your aerobic system will enhance your training, speed up recovery, and allow you to make additional gains.

Walking, rucking, intervals, and hill sprints can all be pretty simple and effective. Strongman conditioning can be a great compliment as well to a lifting program. Sleds, Tires, Sandbags. ALL good.

Conclusion: Get Leaner!

Taking the time to dial your diet in and get leaner can have far reaching implications on your health and your physique.

Improved metabolic flexibility along with shredded abs is NOT a bad combo!

The Modified Protein Sparing Fast is the best way to get lean fast. It works, is backed by research AND experience, and can cause fast body composition changes that are highly motivating.

As I’ve said before, progress = motivation. That’s why I believe that short term diets like this one are a good idea. Seeing and feeling that progress will resonate long into your future.

Crossfit for Bodybuilding?  Enter The H-WOD

Crossfit for Bodybuilding? Enter The H-WOD

Crossfit for bodybuilding?

Crossfit probably isn’t the most optimal choice if your primary goal is building muscle.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t steal some concepts from Crossfit and integrate them into our hypertrophy-oriented training to build some size.

If you like this article, check out Swole Town, where princples like this one and much more are integrated into a badass high-level training program.

What Is Crossfit?

In their own words, Crossfit is: “Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains.”


Functional” is a term I’ve always disliked in the fitness industry.

Almost anything can be “functional,” assuming it is useful towards your goals.

A Biceps curl is functional if your goal is bigger, stronger Biceps.

“High intensity” is also not something unique to Crossfit, obviously.

Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, Strongmen, and recreational lifters generally train with high intensity, either training to failure or using high percentages of their 1 rep max.

OK, So… What is Crossfit?

Crossfit bodybuilding deadlift

Crossfit is concept, not a system.

There have been many spin-offs of Crossfit, including Crossfit Football (which I loved), Crossfit MMA, etc..

The idea is to be very strong, training big lifts in the low rep ranges, combined with intense metabolic conditioning (which can be just about anything), improving your ability to do more physical work in less time.

Can You Build Muscle With Crossfit?

Can you build muscle doing Crossfit?

Absolutely you can, yes.

You’re performing a lot of work very close to failure, accumulating a ton of lactate/metabolic stress and probably getting in quite a bit of volume using compound movements.

The problem from a hypertrophy perspective is that this is simply not optimal if your goal is primarily building muscle/size.

You’ll likely be limited by other factors, i.e., aerobic conditioning, endurance, etc.

When focusing on Hypertrophy specifically, you want to be limited by reaching failure with the target muscle group, not because you can’t breathe and are gasping for air.

The law of specificity is always present, and this is no exception.


In short, if your goal is hypertrophy, training Crossfit is ignoring the principle of specificity.

You’re targeting improvement over a broad range of fitness markers, but not specifically training to build size.

This is OK, of course, as long as that doesn’t conflict with your primary goal.

The more specifically you train for a given adaptation (hypertrophy), the more likely you are to get it.

That means you have to pay attention to the type of stimulus you’re presenting to your body.

Additionally, the emphasis is often on full body movements (snatches, cleans, etc.,) vs. isolating a target muscle group or groups specifically for growth.

If I want bigger shoulders, combining overhead pressing with box jumps isn’t going to be of much benefit for that specific goal.

Again, I’m not saying it’s “bad.”

I’m saying it isn’t optimal for the specific purpose of hypertrophy.

Enter the H-WOD

Crossfit hypertrophy biceps curl

While Crossfit typically uses metabolic conditioning as the “WOD” (workout of the day), we can instead implement an “H-WOD,” or Hypertrophy Workout of the Day.

We’re basically going to use the same concept of training movements “at high intensity across broad time and modal domains,” but we’re going to tweak them to the specific goal of hypertrophy.

In the Swole Town programming, I refer to these segments as the “H-WOD.”

Not something I use all the time, but it’s a nice way to spice things up and really push some deep metabolic fatigue into the target muscle(s).

Read: Can a 3-Day Split be Optimal?

Hypertrophy Workout of the Day (HWOD) Examples:

There really are infinite ways to design these.

The following are some of my favorites, that I think lend themselves well to hypertrophy, and that I’ve used in my own programming.

Death By:

“Death By” is a classic Crossfit WOD, in which you start with 1 rep in the first minute, and increase reps every minute, on the minute, until you can no longer finish within the minute.

This can be death by anything:

Death by Biceps Curls, death by bench press, death by pushups, etc.

These are my favorite “Death By” WODs for building size:

  • Barbell Curls, 45-95lbs.
  • DB Shrugs: Moderately heavy
  • Pull ups, or pulldowns
  • Push ups, close grip push ups, or deficit push ups
  • Back or Front Squat, or leg press

In Crossfit, these WOD’s are typically done with big movements like cleans, snatches, etc.. to make it more of a full body metabolic conditioning workout.

We’re simply choosing movements that will lend themselves better to muscle growth.


AMRAP, or, As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible.

In this set-up, you perform as many rounds of a circuit as possible in a given amount of time.

Some AMRAPs I’ve used in Swole Town:

  • 10 Barbell Biceps Curls / 10 Close Grip Push ups: 8-10 minutes, as many rounds as possible.
  • 15 incline DB curls / 15 DB hammer curls/15 reverse curls: 8-10 minutes, as many rounds as possible
  • 50 Yard Farmer Carry / 20 DB Hammer Curls: 8-10 minutes, as many rounds as possible.
  • 10 Front Squats / 10 lunges: 8-10 minutes, as many rounds as possible.
Crossfit bodybuilding farmer carry


EMOM, or, every minute, on the minute.

You’ll hit a prescribed number of reps every minute, on the minute for a set number of minutes.

Some solid EMOM examples for hypertrophy:

  • 7 lateral raises / 7 upright rows, every minute on the minute for 8-10 minutes.
  • 1-3 deadlifts every minute, on the minute for 10 minutes. 1 rep for heavier work, 2-3 for lighter, faster reps (stick to 80% 1RM and under for this one).
  • 7 Back Squats (or front squat) every minute, on the minute for 7 minutes.


You can also just complete a given amount of work as quickly as possible (for time).

Ideally, the weight is moderately heavy, somewhere around a 12-15 rep max.

This will ensure quality, tough reps conducive to hypertrophy over the course of the set.


  • 50 Bent over DB rows / 50 DB Hammer curls / 50 close grip push ups…. for time.
  • 30 reps with your 10 rep max bench press, in as few sets as possible or, for time.

Nothing New Under the Sun:

Crossfit didn’t really invent anything. People have been training with these movements and concepts for a long time in one form or another.

They just put it together and made it mainstream.

I’m also not the first to use these concepts.

John Wellbourne (Power Athlete) launched Crossfit Football in 2009, which I actually used to participate in and love back in the day. It’s since been restructured to “Jonny Bod,” I believe.

Others have done the same in a myriad of different ways.

I make no claim that this is some superior way to train for hypertrophy, nor is it original.

It is just one of many ways we can spice up training and make it challenging, and sometimes that’s what it’s all about.

I hope this article helped you move a little closer to that best version of you.

Please check out my Youtube channel and programs through Trainheroic.

Thanks for being here!

Workout For Women: 8 Week Fitness Challenge

Workout For Women: 8 Week Fitness Challenge

Looking for a workout for women? Look no further. Lean • Strong • Fit is an 8 week workout plan for females that will be your blueprint for a leaner, stronger, healthier body.

Born Out Of Demand

This program was created based on demand. I simply had many females asking for a program specifically designed for them, as most of my other programming was geared towards men.

At a fraction of the cost of even a single week with a personal trainer, this is the ideal choice for many females looking for a plan to transform their physiques and their overall fitness without the price tag of a trainer.

Having had a lot of success training female clients, I decided to create an 8 week program based on what I felt worked the best for the goals of most women in the gym.

In short, I know it works, because I’ve used it repeatedly and seen it work.

Workouts Specifically Designed for Women

Not only are women physiologically different than men, they also usually have different goals when it comes to fitness.

Most women aren’t trying to bench press 300 pounds or get huge Biceps.

I’m not saying they Can’t do those things.. I’m saying they usually don’t want to.

Most women want a lean, toned, fit body, especially in the lower body and Glutes. A workout for women should reflect these goals.

This 8 week program features:

  • Extra emphasis on the lower body and Glutes (booty).
  • Metabolic conditioning (HIIT style training with weights).
  • Strength Training (mostly with Dumbbells/bands/cables).
  • Progressive Structure (each week gets a little bit harder as you progress).
  • Demo Videos for every exercise and instructions for every exercise/workout
  • 3 Cardio days, including interval training, that progresses each week
  • Ab/Core training
  • Access to a coach


Having a Plan Matters

Walking into the gym without a plan is a recipe for mediocre results.

With a solid plan, you’ll progress each week and walk into the gym knowing exactly what you need to accomplish.

Couple that with an app that tracks all of your progress, and access to a coach, and you’ve got a recipe for serious results.

What Equipment Will You Need?

This workout program can be completed with basic gym equipment. Ideally, you’ll have access to:

  • Dumbbells
  • Hip Band
  • Resistance Band(s)
  • Cable Pulley (recommended, not necessary)
  • Your Own Body

Where Will You Be in 8 Weeks?

Will you still be thinking about how you want to look and feel in 8 weeks? Or will you be DOING IT.

Is it easy? No… but it is doable. Hard work and consistency are required.

Each week will get progressively harder as you build up and improve, keeping your body guessing and improving.

Stop thinking about the physique you want and start doing something about it.

The blueprint is here.. but you’ve got to take the jump and do the work.

5 Minute Steak Marinade, And How To Grill The Perfect Steak.

5 Minute Steak Marinade, And How To Grill The Perfect Steak.

If you love grilling like I do, you know that how you prep your steaks can make all the difference. This easy homemade steak marinade recipe will take you about 5 minutes to make, and is well worth the time!

Steak Marinade Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil (light tasting is best): 1 Cup
  • Worcestershire Sauce 1/2 Cup
  • Soy Sauce: 1/3 cup (more if you like)
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic
  • Juice from 1 Lemon
  • Dijon Mustard (a squirt or two)
  • Salt & Pepper, or steak seasoning (I don’t measure)

How To Make The Steak Marinade

Making this steak marinade is extremely easy and simple (and really good).

Place all ingredients into a food processer (or blender) and turn it on. Once it’s all mixed up sufficiently, unplug the food processer.

Place your steaks in a large plastic bag or a bowl (covered).

If you don’t have a food processer, I HIGHLY recommend the Ninja. Check it out HERE on Amazon.

Prepping the Steaks

Pour the Steak Marinade into the bag/bowl where you’ve placed your steaks.

Mix it up, ensuring the steaks are fully covered, and place back in the refrigerator.

It’s best to let the steaks marinate for at least an hour or two, or longer.

When I’m lighting the grill, I usually like to take the steaks out and shake ’em up one more time. I usually leave them out of the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before throwing them on the grill.

You can put some additional steak seasoning on them as well at this stage, totally up to you. Just don’t overdo it.. the steak marinade we’ve prepared will give them plenty of flavor.

steak marinade recipe 2

Grill Them Up!

Get your grill nice and hot. I prefer charcoal, but if you’re using a gas grill, you want to get it very hot to ensure you sear the flavor into the steak.

For larger steaks, I prefer to sear them on the hot grill to lock in the crust/flavor, then move them to the side a bit so they don’t burn.

Hey Meat Eater, check out my training programs available through TrainHeroic. Might as well build some muscle with all that steak you’re eating!

Steak Preparation Guidelines: Rare to Well Done

Use a meat thermometer! There’s nothing worse than making a perfect steak marinade, waiting several hours, then ruining them by overcooking.

Use the following guidelines: (in degrees farenheit)

  • Rare: 125 degrees
  • Medium Rare: 130 degrees
  • Medium: 130-135 degrees
  • Medium Well: 135-140 degrees
  • Well: 145-160 degrees

Don’t Cut Into The Steak!

This is extremely important!

When you take the steaks off the grill, do NOT cut into them right away.

Wait about 8 minutes before cutting into the steaks. If you do not wait, the juices will not redistribute back into the meat, and you will end up losing out on flavor and tenderness of the steak.

It’s also worth noting that the steaks will continue cooking for a few minutes after you take them off the grill. For this reason, I am very careful not to let the temperature get too high before taking them off.

If you wait until the temperature passes 135, for example, you may well end up with well done steaks. This takes some trial and error with your grill set up.

Steak Marinade and Grilling Recap

To highlight the important points:

  • This easy Steak marinade recipe can be made in about 5 minutes and is delicious
  • Let the steaks marinate for at least an hour or two, ensure they are covered with the marinade.
  • Get the grill HOT. You want to sear the flavor into the steaks and create a crust of flavor.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure you cook them to your desired level of doneness.
  • DON’T cut into the steaks right away. Wait about 8 minutes or so.
  • Experience with your grill setup is king. A little trial and error may be necessary to get it just right.

Thanks for reading! I hope this homemade steak marinade recipe and grilling tips can help you create an amazing dinner for your or your family! Nothing beats a perfectly cooked steak!

4 For The Core:  The Best Exercises For Core Strength

4 For The Core: The Best Exercises For Core Strength

Core Strength is one of the most misunderstood topics in the fitness world. If you want to be strong, you must have an iron strong core, and chances are you’ve been going about it all wrong.

What is Core Strength?

This is the definition I’m going to use, and I’ll stand by it..

Core Strength is your ability to stabilize the torso (trunk) under load.

The “Core” includes the abs, stabilizing muscles in the back, and really the entire trunk working together to stabilize the body.

When you perform movement under heavy load… for example, during a back squat, your torso must be able to stabilize the weight while you move. If you cannot stabilize the weight, you will simply not be able to complete the movement.


The human body is pretty intelligent. It can sense instability, and will not allow you to perform a loaded movement that you cannot stabilize.

Proprioception is the process through which the central nervous system essentially controls your ability to produce strength.

The point? A weak and unstable core will limit your strength potential, period.

If you’d like to check out some solid programming to take yourself to the next level, check out one of my elite programs below.

SWOLE TOWN – Size and Strength Team Program


How to Train for Real Core Strength

My goal here is to provide value to you, the reader. Here are some high-impact methods you can implement into your training to develop serious core strength.

1. Zerchers

Zercher holds, walks and squats are quite possibly the single best core-strengthening movements that exist.

With weight held in the crook of your arms, your trunk is forced to work hard to keep the body upright. If you don’t brace the hell out of your core, you will not be able to hold onto the weight without being folded.

4 Zercher Variations for Core Strength

First up are Zercher Walks. Holding the weight out in front of you, keep your posture upright and walk, taking small steps and bracing the hell out of your trunk/core.

Next we’ll look at some Zercher Shrugs. Here you can target the core as well as the Traps, performing shrugs from this position. Continue to fight to keep the torso upright and braced hard.

Zercher Squats are another very solid movement for core strength as well as targeting the lower body. These are basically a tougher version of front squats, with increased emphasis on bracing the trunk.

Last but not least for the Zercher variations are some isometric holds. These are essentially standing, loaded planks. These are far tougher than a plank and will create real core strength. Planks are great, but lend themselves to core endurance more so than true raw core strength.

2. Loaded Carries

Loaded carries are an incredible and often under-utilized method for building both size and strength.

When you perform a heavy farmers carry, the weight shifts slightly as you move, forcing your core to continuously stabilize the weight. This extends to muscle fibers in the back, Traps and shoulders as well.

The high amount of tension you can place on the upper back, Traps, shoulders and arms with heavy carries can lead to significant hypertrophy, and can also make you strong as hell.

You can use heavy dumbbells, kettlebells, farmer carry handles, or even a trap bar.

3. Z-Press

If you havn’t noticed, I’m trying to give you options you can integrate into your current training.

Rather than simply adding movements to your current training routine, you can work some of these in and swap out movements that you may already be doing too much of. I.e., replace DB shrugs with Zercher shrugs, and swap out overhead pressing for the Z-Press for a while.

Pressing from the seated Position will take away any ability to cheat, with zero leg drive and nothing to lean against.

Your core strength will absolutely be a limiting factor in how much you can press from this position.

The Z-Press was invented by famous Strongman Zydrunas Savickas, who held a 500lb overhead press. He credited this movement with developing raw pressing strength.

Use a barbell, swiss bar, or dumbbells.

4. Plank Variations for Core Strength

I have nothing against planks and use them all the time with clients.

If you’re targeting core strength and are already good at planks, consider performing some more challenging variations.

Shorten the time of each set and work on getting stronger.

Extended Planks will force the trunk to work harder to remain stable. Try holding these for 20-30 seconds and you’ll see that they are far more difficult than a traditional front plank.

Star Planks are another tough plank variation. Raise the top arm and leg from a side plank position and hold.

Last but not least, try weighted planks. This will shift the focus from core endurance to core strength in a hurry.

Just be careful not to overdo it.. You don’t need to train to failure on these, and probably shouldn’t be coming too close to max effort work on a plank.

Final Thoughts on Core Strength

I hope this article has given you some solid ideas on how to build some real core strength.

Try integrating a few of these into your current training split and work on getting stronger with them.

As with all new training methods, start conservative and work on solid form, then build from there.

If you want it all programmed for you, check out the Swole Town Program and join the team.

If you liked this article, check out “Upgrade Your Shoulder Workouts” for some solid tips on shoulder day training.