Glycogen Depletion Workouts

Just finishing up a long weekend here in Canada where we had amazing weather.

This weekend, called “the May 2-4 weekend” – because beer drinkers like to sit around outside and drink a 2-4 (case) of beer – is usually cold and rainy. This year it was warm and sunny, with some rain thrown in for old times’ sake, of course.

While I gave up the case-of-beer-drinking many years ago, I still spent plenty of time outside, walking ol’ Bally the dog and daydreaming about new workouts.

I even created a new workout called, “TT Xtreme Depletion”, and I’ll make that available tomorrow – but it’s ONLY available until Thursday.

(By the way, I’m really glad that whole Rapture thing didn’t happen. I would have been stuck with a new workout that no one could have used. So yay for no judgement day.)

Now let’s continue on with our “Fat Loss Depletion” series. I want to give you 3 instant exercise changes that allow you to have better workouts and deplete more muscle glycogen.

Remember: The more muscle glycogen you deplete, the more turbulence you put on the muscles, and the more calories you’ll burn after training, and THEREFORE the more fat you will lose.


I should also remind you that muscle glycogen is simply what we nerd-lingers call the carbohydrates that are stored in your muscles. You also store carbs in your liver, where it’s called liver glycogen.

(So Hannibal Lector may have had a carb heavy meal when he ate that guy’s liver with fava beans and a glass of chianti in Silence of the Lambs.)

But onto the workout fixes.

#1 – Slow Lifting

I’ll be honest, slow lifting is almost antithetical to my entire workout belief system because it isn’t great for strength.

HOWEVER, everything has it’s place, and I’ve included some “lactic acid” slow lifting training in this new workout program – and you have John “Romanz” Romaniello to thank for this.

So curse his name, not mine, when you do these exercises with a slow lifting pace.

For example, you’ll do some Goblet Squats with a 4-second UP motion, rather than a slow DOWN motion.

The UP motion of a squat is called a concentric movement while a down motion is called an eccentric movement.

A concentric movement depletes MORE glycogen than an eccentric motion (eccentrics are associated with greater muscle soreness, and that’s another lesson for another day).

When you deplete glycogen during resistance training, you build up the lactic acid levels in your blood.

Increased lactic acid levels cause increases in growth hormone, a powerful fat burning hormone.

Hopefully you see where I’m going with all of this.

Depletion + Lactic Acid = Fast fat burning = Happy TT Readers.

#2 – Calorie-Burning Interval Challenges

I’ve been using these with some “guinea pig” clients here in Toronto and it’s a fun way to add a psychological motivation boost to regular interval workouts.

Pick a duration and pick a machine. Do your warm-up. Now reset the calorie counter to zero. Then go ballyz-to-the-wallz for that duration using a set interval training method, for example, 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off. Record the number of calories burned.

Next workout – Beat that number of calories burned in the same duration by either exercising at a higher intensity for the same intervals OR by making the intervals a little longer and the rest periods shorter.

The more calories burned = More muscle glycogen depleted.

Or as my father would have said, ‘muss-kull glycogen’.

This is a simple, yet powerful way to put fun back into traditional interval workouts and get more results.

NOTE: You can use a similar set-up with kettlebell swings, and count the number of reps performed in 10-15 minutes and then you try and do more reps in the same time next workout.

Now that I think of it that way, you could almost call this “Density Interval Training”.

But whatever you call it, it works awesome for fat burning.

#3 – Accommodating Exercises

If we can crank out a few more reps in each set, then we can deplete more muscle glycogen. One way to do that is by switching to an easier version of the exercise as you fatigue.

So in the Xtreme TT Depletion program, I have a “Pushup Triset”.

You’ll start with decline pushups, then upon fatigue you move immediately into regular pushups, and then finish with incline pushups. Each subsequent pushup is an easier version and allows you to do more reps, and deplete more glycogen.

Good times.

But that’s not all…

There’s also density sets, bodyweight cardio circuits, and metabolic resistance training – just 3 more methods I use in the TT Xtreme Depletion workout to exhaust your muscle glycogen and turn up the turbulence.

Turn up the turbulence.

That’s a good one. (T-shirt worthy.)

And that’s what you’ll get to do tomorrow.

Get ready to turn up the turbulence,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS, CTT
Author, Xtreme TT Depletion – Coming May 24th