Advanced Body Transformation Tips

advanced-body-transformation-contestI hope that you’ve been enjoying my interview with training and nutrition expert, Erik Ledin.  If you missed part 1, 2, or 3, then I highly recommend jumping back because Erik’s provided excellent recommendations for those participating in body transformation contests, as well as tips for those simply looking to burn fat and clean up their diet.

Today, Erik shares with us a rather interesting approach to diet and training for ADVANCED gym goers that will bust through any plateau and ramp up fat loss to improve transformation results.  So, let’s get started…

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Craig Ballantyne:  So let’s look at different fitness levels now.

How does your advice differ for someone who’s more advanced who doesn’t have as far to go and who knows what to do and can respond to more advanced nutrition and training tips?  Is your advice changing for the two different populations that you work with?

Erik Ledin: I think so to a point.  Usually the more advanced person is probably like you said they don’t have as far to go.  They probably already have lost quite a bit of fat.  I think the further away you move from your normal body weight or your normal body fat percentage the harder it is to lose more.

So it’s easy to go from point “A” to point “B” but it’s harder to go from point “B” to point “C”.  So that’s when there’s a little bit more manipulation or fine tuning of the diet.

I think that one of the biggest UNDERUSED strategies with fat loss is plans of diet breaks.

Like periods of maintenance eating.  Where you up your calories for a couple weeks.  Or even what are called structured re-feeds so periods of very high carbohydrate, low fat eating.

Whether or not these work for the reasons they are claimed to work which is the bumping up the regulatory hormones, it really doesn’t matter.  The point is it does work.

So this is for people that are actually dieting for a long time.  They’ve made some good progress.

They hit a PLATEAU.

You can only lower calories so much and then you just start starving. You know what I mean?  And then your compliance just goes out the window.

I’ve seen this work many, many times where you take someone who is just plugging away.  They’re hitting their diet 100 percent or 90 percent.  They’re getting their cardio in.  They’re training hard.  And it’s slow going.  They just hit a wall.

And I think that happens.  Your body just says okay, that’s enough for now.  We’re not going to work with you any more so to speak.  So at that point I will usually start incorporating re-feeds which are basically blocks of time of high carbohydrate eating, low fat.

Craig Ballantyne:  How long are these blocks?

Erik Ledin: I would start usually at about five or six hours.  .

Craig Ballantyne:  So do you just generally recommend like a day or two?

Erik Ledin: I’ll usually go a full day of really high carb eating and then once that really doesn’t seem to be doing it any more, I’ll take them to maintenance calories which is usually around 14 or 15 times body weight for two weeks.  Making sure they’re getting 100 to 150 grams of carbs a day.

When they actually go back to their deficit, fat loss always picks up. You can go back to the same deficit you were at beforehand and I’ve seen it always pick up.  So whether that’s kind of a resetting of the system so to speak or something else is happening.

It might seem COUNTER-INTUITIVE that sometimes eating more for a little while will help with fat loss but it does.

Craig Ballantyne:  Okay.  That’s after like someone’s been stuck for a week or two weeks or it just depends?

Erik Ledin: I would say if you’re actually not progressing and you know that everything is on point.  You’re not under eating.  You’re following your plan.  You’re basically just adhering to your program, doing the same thing for a bit longer isn’t going to make it all of a sudden start working.

That’s another BIG MISTAKE people make is they actually are doing something and it’s not working and they just keep doing it any way expecting it to suddenly start working.  So that’s a whole issue of troubleshooting your program.

Two weeks is a good enough time block.

That’s the time block I use to assess results.  Is a good enough time block to basically see if something’s happening.  If nothing happens in two weeks you need to make an adjustment.

Craig Ballantyne:  Okay.  So let’s go over maybe one of your more advanced transformation success stories.  Perhaps one of your contest winners or something like that.

Erik Ledin: All right.  What do you want to know?

Craig Ballantyne:  What struggles did they have as they got close to the end and for people that are reading this or listening to this and saying, I’m not just a beginner.  I’m getting close and I want to know how to – I’m getting close to like being really lean and I want to make sure I do everything right here.

What are maybe some of the things to make sure you avoid and to make sure that you keep on doing?

Erik Ledin: Okay.  I have a contest or a competitor client of mine that is a national figure competitor.  She also blogs her progress on my site.  Her name’s Noelle Clark.  She basically started competing last year and is one of the – she’s always been an athlete so she’s got pretty good genetics and got this idea to – she’s a former university soccer player so she wants to stay in this competitive mindset.  These athletes usually maintain this need to compete.

And so this was a brand new thing for her so getting down into contest shape presented a whole bunch of new issues.  Particularly for a female is that as the body fat gets low all the hormones are kind of mucked up and you’re hungrier.  You don’t have as much energy and whatnot.

I think some of the biggest mistakes towards the end of a plan when someone’s going from like lean to very lean is one, too much cardio. Even too much interval training if you’re pro-interval training because at that point when body fat’s low, recovery’s at a premium.

And interval training is if you’re doing more of the shorter type, sprint type interval protocols, is very intensive workout.  It’s hard on the lower body and so I think respecting the need to pay more attention to your recovery when your body fat’s lower.

Most people, when you look at competitors who are advanced people that are – and it gets the job done but you gotta suffer through it.  I mean people that are doing two hours of cardio seven days a week.  Totally unnecessary.

When the body fat’s low and you’re trying to get lower, you need to be doing less work in the gym. Not more.  So you can maintain.  I mean weight training at that point is about muscle maintenance.  It’s not about fat loss.  It’s not about muscle gain.  It’s about muscle maintenance.

So doing less work in the gym.  Staying away from the high reps.  Super short rest interval stuff at the end.  Making sure there’s a strength focus to your training so you’ve got some heavy compound work in there.  You got some reps in that five to eight rep range.

You’re not doing a lot of volume.  That’s one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen is people that at the end – they’re doing great from like say the first half of their diet.  They’re holding on to their muscle.  They’re looking better and all of a sudden they start shrinking and they are losing muscle but they’re not getting any leaner.  They’re worn out.  They got no motivation to train.

If your motivation to train is shot, then you’re probably over-trained at that point.

Craig Ballantyne:  Okay.

Erik Ledin: And again from a nutritional standpoint it’s really an issue of not taking the calories too low.  Maybe doing a bit more manipulation with your diet which is more frequent re-feeding.  I’ve had people towards the end where I’ll have the off days as really low calories days for example but training days are really high so it’s a really kind of extreme form of calorie cycling and I find that helps as well.

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In part 5, Erik will show us just what kind of fat loss results can one expect from a 12-week transformation contest.

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  • Allie (Protein Girl)

    Wow this is breath of fresh sanity! Very interesting post – I learned a few of those lessons the hard way. Overtrained, overdieted and under-recovered when I could have maintained a low bodyfat with a lot less work and more eating .

  • Brad

    What I like about this interview is that Erik gives a clear description of what HAS worked, without making up reasons for why it worked.

    He kept that side open, so his message didn’t get lost in the details. Excellent.

    B