By this stage of the program, you're no stranger to hitting the weights with intensity, and you have quality muscle to show for your efforts. Now, in Phase 3, the training goal changes from building muscle and burning fat to burning fat while preserving as much muscle as possible.
Phase 3: Burn Unwanted Fat, Save Hard-Earned Muscle
You worked hard for your muscle. You want to keep it even while burning unwanted fat. Why not add even more muscle even while burning fat? Well, simply put, it's difficult to continue to grow while simultaneously creating the sort of calorie deficit needed to burn fat. With that in mind, we're not drastically reducing calories. However, to create enough of a deficit, we are increasing the intensity of the workouts by adding high-intensity interval training (HIIT), plyometrics, supersets, and active rests.
Weeks 9 & 10: Training
Phase 3 workouts emphasize techniques designed to enhance the cardiovascular benefits of training. As a result, you'll often use a lower weight for higher repetitions.
Several notes to keep in mind:
Equipment-wise, I recommend purchasing a jump rope. You will use it often.
These workouts are more intense than before, so if you have any joint problems, please respect your limitations. Don't perform any exercises that cause pain.
I recommend taking 1-minute rests between sets during this phase, except as noted. If you need more time, take it.
These workouts should take an hour to an hour and half to complete.
Weeks 11 & 12: Training
For each circuit, perform the allotted number of reps for each exercise consecutively. Rest 3-5 minutes before repeating the routine twice more.
After completing the entire circuit, choose an option for cardio to perform for 30-40 additional minutes. Aim for medium intensity. This means breaking a light sweat and exercising at a rate where you could still converse with someone.
As an upper limit, keep your heart rate beneath its maximum capacity (220 minus your age).
So for me, it would be 220 minus 34 (years) = 186
We're in the home stretch, so it's important not to miss these workouts. That way, when you reach your goal date, you'll have leaned out as much as possible.
Glossary Of Phase 3 Terms
Superset: Perform the first exercise and then immediately do the next exercise. Only then do you take the 2-minute rest in between before repeating again.
Active rest: Do the first exercise, and then instead of resting, perform the active-rest movement (for example, jump rope). Immediately repeat the first exercise.
Week 9: Nutrition
Week 9's nutrition plan is basically a continuation of Week 8's.
Weeks 10, 11 & 12: Nutrition
Beginning on the first day of Week 10, you'll be "carb cycling," a process that you will continue to follow through the end of the program. Carb cycling takes the macronutrients (the proteins, fats and carbs) of your meals and manipulates them to reduce body fat to very low levels, with as little muscle cannibalization as possible.
Because carbs are the body's preferred source of fuel, cycling those carbs - eating lower amounts some days, higher amounts other days - confuses the body by not giving it a constant and dependable fuel source. When we reduce the intake of carbs on lower carb days, we'll replace those calories with protein and healthy fats. That way you'll have an adequate number of calories and maintain as much muscle as possible as you continue to exercise. This technique isn't for the faint of heart; following it to the letter takes discipline. You'll need to count and weigh every meal, taking care to consume the proper portions of macros from day to day.
This carb cycle will last only 3 weeks. Any longer and you might lose too much hard-earned muscle.
To determine your carbohydrate requirements, take the lower number of calories you determined at the start of Week 7. For example, my calorie range was 1300-1800 calories, so the number I'll use for the carb cycle will be 1300. Your carb cycle will include three low-carb days for every one high-carb day. In other words, you'll have three low-carb days, one high-carb day, three low-carb days, and so on. This technique will help you ramp up your weight loss and finish 12 Week Body strong.
Only 20% of your calories will be from carbohydrates.
We'll again use the total daily calories that we determined for Week 7 (the lower number), only this time, 50% of the calories consumed will come from carbs.
Note: Use calculators to determine your calories and carbs for your high- and low-carb days!