How To Train For Fat Loss!


charles poliquin muscle

So you want to lose those love handles and finally get below 10% body fat? Don’t we all. The truth is the fat loss war is won or lost in the kitchen. If you do not have your nutrition plan absolutely dialed in then that is where I would start. However, if you are already eating for fat loss then training correctly becomes incredibly important.

In this comprehensive guide I am going to teach you everything you need to know about how to train for fat loss.

The best fat loss training programs include German Body Composition, tri-sets, giant sets and escalating density training. All of these training routines produce an enormous amount of lactic acid in your muscles which elevates growth hormone, increases your total energy expenditure and helps you burn pounds of body fat.

If you are struggling to lose body fat then you have to give one of these programs a shot. They can make the difference between walking around with six-pack abs and looking like a grizzly bear just entering hibernation.

Here is an outline for the rest of this article:

Article Outline

  • Part 1: 3 Schools Of Thought On Training For Fat Loss
  • Part 2: German Body Composition
  • Part 3: Tri-Sets
  • Part 4: Giant Sets
  • Part 5: Density Training

Please note: all of the routines in this article are written with all of the loading parameters clearly defined. If you have any trouble reading these workouts then please consult this article.

Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: 3 Schools Of Thought On Training For Fat Loss

There are three primary schools of thought when it comes to designing workouts for fat loss:

  • School of thought #1: High reps and short rest periods
  • School of thought #2: Stick with your “offseason” program
  • School of thought #3: Lactic acid training

The first school of thought focuses on using high reps and short rest periods to burn body fat.

The basic idea is that the higher reps and shorter rest periods allow you to burn more body fat and calories within your workout. Many high-level bodybuilders ascribe to this school of thought.

Of course there is a major downside to this approach: many people lose too much hard-earned muscle when they focus exclusively on higher reps.

A second school of thought says that you should stick with your “offseason” training plan when dieting down.

After all, the best program for maintaining muscle mass while you diet has to be the plan that built the muscle mass in the first place.

This is certainly a viable approach. However, it does have a major drawback: many people struggle to actually lose body fat training this way. There are many powerlifters in “perma-bulk” mode training this way. 

Both of these schools of thoughts have merit. However, there is a third school of thought that you should be aware of:

Lactic acid training for fat loss.

The idea is simple: you are going to structure your workouts so that you produce as much lactic acid as humanly possible.

Lactic acid is a waste product produced in your muscles when you train with higher rep ranges and shorter rest intervals. Any time you get a “burn” in your muscles you are producing lactic acid.

Research has shown that the more lactic acid you produce during your workouts the more growth hormone your body releases. As you may already know, growth hormone is one of the most powerful fat-burning hormones in the body.

One of growth hormone’s main jobs is to take the bodyfat stored in your fat cells and to release it into your bloodstream where it can be burned for energy. If you can trick your body into releasing a tidal wave of growth hormone during your workouts then your body will become a fat burning machine! 

To make it even simpler:

Lactic acid accumulation —–> growth hormone release —–> rapid fat loss!

There is practically no limit to the amount of growth hormone that you can release in a workout. The biggest limiting factor is actually your pain tolerance.

How much lactic acid accumulation are you willing to endure during your workouts? In other words, how much of a “burn” can you tolerate in your muscles? That is the question…

A lot of people believe that the only way to maximize lactic acid production is with light weights, high-reps and ultra-short rest intervals. This is certainly one approach.

However, I believe there are some other options that are even more effective. You definitely don’t have to resort to lifting the pink dumbbells to get a massive “burn” in your muscles.

German Body Composition, tri-sets, giant sets, and density training are all superior options for maximizing lactic acid production and thus growth hormone release.

Each of these training methods also gives you the opportunity to lift reasonably heavy weights so that you maintain your hard-earned strength and muscle mass while dieting down. Lactic acid training for fat loss is like the best of both worlds!

Part 2: German Body Composition

German Body Composition is one of the most effective fat loss training programs that you can use. The program was originally developed by Charles Poliquin as a means to get his world-class athletes into shape as quickly as possible.

It has since been used by many of the world’s leading personal trainers such as Nick Mitchell to produce some mind-blowing body composition transformations.

Here is an excellent overview of the program:

The original German Body Composition program features 3 full-body workouts per week. You are going to alternate back and forth between 2 workouts: an “A” workout and a “B” workout.

These workouts will be similar to each other but feature slightly different exercises. This is important to prevent burnout.

During the workouts you are going to alternate back-and-forth between sets for your upper body and lower body. For example you might perform a set of squats, rest 30 seconds, perform a set of chin ups, rest 30 seconds and then perform another set of squats.

Performing your sets in this manner forces your body to pump blood literally all over your body to fuel your muscles. This allows you to produce an enormous amount of lactic acid and stimulate a huge amount of muscle tissue in a very short period of time.

Here is a basic template for these workouts:

Routine A

  • A1: Quadriceps exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • A2: Upper back exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • B1: Chest / shoulder exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • B2: Hamstrings exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds 
  • C1: Quadriceps exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • C2: Upper back exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds

Routine B

  • A1: Chest exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • A2: hamstrings exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • B1: Quadriceps exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • B2: Upper back exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • C1: Chest / shoulder exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds
  • C2: Hamstrings exercise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, rest 30-60 seconds

This type of workout will not take you more than 45 minutes to complete but you will feel completely spent once the 45 minutes are up.

It’s very important to focus on the big, compound exercises whenever you can. For example exercises such as squats, deadlifts, chin ups and dumbbell presses are all great choices.

Isolation exercises for your arms, calves etc. are probably not your best bet on this routine. These exercises just don’t produce anywhere near as much lactic acid as the big compound exercises.

If you do choose to perform some isolation exercises then it is probably best to perform them at the end of your workout after you are already fatigued.

Here is a sample German Body Composition workout program that you may want to try. Check it out:

German Body Composition Sample Routine “A”

  • A1: Back squat (medium stance / heels flat), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • A2: Lat pulldown (medium / supinated grip), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline DB press, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • B2: 45 degree back extension (eccentric emphasis w/ dumbbells), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • C1: Walking / alternating DB lunges, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/0, 30 seconds rest
  • C2: Seated cable row (rope handle), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Lying ez-bar extension (to forehead), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D2: Preacher ez-bar curl (wide / supinated grip), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest

German Body Composition Sample Routine “B”

  • A1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • A2: Romanian deadlift, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • B1: Leg press, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • B2: Bilateral hammer strength pulldown (supinated grip), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • C1: 60 degree incline DB press, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • C2: Bilateral lying leg curl (feet dorsiflexed / pointing straight), 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Seated calf raise, 3 x 12-15, 1/1/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D2: Seated poliquin lateral raise, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest

This program would be performed three days per week. You would simply alternate back and forth between the “A” workout and the “B” workout on your scheduled workout days. For example:

Week 1

  • Monday: Workout “A”
  • Wednesday: Workout “B”
  • Friday: Workout “A”

Week 2

  • Monday: Workout “B”
  • Wednesday: Workout “A”
  • Friday: Workout “B”

If you are a beginner-intermediate level trainee then the German Body Composition program is one of the absolute best ways to train for fat loss.

If you are a more advanced trainee then you may find it difficult to recover from 3 full body workouts per week. In that case I recommend you try out one of the tri-set, giant set or escalating density workouts covered in the rest of this article.

I think you will find them very challenging but extremely effective.

Part 3: Tri-Sets

Tri-sets are easily one of my favourite training methods to use with my online coaching clients who want to lose body fat. The idea is simple: you are going to perform 3 different exercises back-to-back for the same body part with only 10 seconds rest between sets.

For example here is what a quadriceps tri-set might look like:

  • Quadriceps exercise #1 x 10-20 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • Quadriceps exercise #2 x 10-20 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • Quadriceps exercise #3 x 10-20 reps, rest 2-3 minutes, repeat!

With a tri-set you are stacking together three different exercises for the same body part. Before your muscles have even recovered you are onto the next exercise! This is a tremendous way to increase the amount of time under tension of your sets and to force your muscles to produce more lactic acid.

Just think about it: a normal set might take 20-40 seconds to complete. If you string together three of these sets in a row with a tri-set then your quads have to work for 1-2 minutes straight! 

There are a number of different ways that you can organize a tri-set for fat loss. One of the simplest ways is to keep your reps in the 10-20 range on each exercise in your tri-set. This approach works particularly well for the muscle groups with a greater percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers such as the quadriceps, deltoids and upper back.

Here is a higher-rep quadriceps tri-set routine that Nick Mitchell has used with his clients. Check it out:

Nick Mitchell Quadriceps Tri-Set Routine

  • A1: Bilateral machine leg extension, 3-5 x 20, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Walking alternating DB lunge, 3-5 x 10, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: Leg press, 3-5 x 10, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest

Here is the training video:

Of course you may want to perform a few rounds of a hamstrings tri-set after the quadriceps work for a more complete leg workout.

No, you don’t have to push yourself that hard during your sets to get results. I recommend you push yourself to 1-2 reps shy of failure on each of your sets. This means your last rep is a grinder and you maybe have one more rep left in the tank when you end your set.

Pushing your sets closer to failure is generally a good idea when you train with really high repetitions. These sets aren’t as hard on your central nervous system in the first place so it’s OK if you dig deep and grind out your last few reps.

This will obviously go a long ways in terms of maximizing the amount of lactic acid you can produce in your workout. 

Here is another higher-rep tri-set routine you can use to quickly drop body fat. This one focuses on the upper back and shoulders. Check it out:

Back / Shoulder Tri-set Routine

  • A1: Wide / overhand grip lat pulldowns, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Seated cable row (v-handle), 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/1, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: Nautilus pullover machine, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Band pull-apart, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/1, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Seated DB overhead press, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B3: Seated DB partial lateral raises, 3 x 20-30, 1/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest

There are a huge number of ways you can design a tri-set workout for fat loss. Using higher rep ranges on all of your sets is certainly one effective method. However, it is not the only way.

Another incredibly effective method invented and popularized by Charles Poliquin is the 6/12/25 method.

The 6/12/25 method is a very specific type of tri-set. You are going to perform 6 reps on your first exercise, 12 reps on your second exercise, and 25 reps on your third exercise. For example:

  • Exercise #1: 6 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • Exercise #2: 12 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • Exercise #3: 25 reps, rest 180 seconds, repeat! 

The varying rep ranges produce a powerful training effect.

The first exercise is used to stimulate the fast-twitch muscle fibers and to help stimulate maximal strength gains. On the other hand the second and third exercises in the circuit are used to help thrash as many muscle fibers as possible and to produce an overwhelming amount of lactic acid.

This of course tricks your body into releasing an avalanche of growth hormone which will lean you out faster than you can say “Dorian Yates.”

The 6/12/25 method is so demanding that you probably shouldn’t train more than 2-3 body parts per workout.

Here is a complete push / pull / legs routine using the 6/12/25 method that you may want to try. Check it out:

6/12/25 “Push” Workout

  • A1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 3-4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: 30 degree incline DB press, 3-4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: Standing cable crossover, 3-4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated DB overhead press, 3-4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Seated Poliquin DB lateral raise**, 3-4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B3: Rear delt pec dec machine, 3-4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • C1: Decline ez-bar extension (to forehead), 3-4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • C2: V-bar cable pushdown, 3-4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • C3: Flat rolling DB extension, 3-4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest

**Bend your elbows to 90 degrees during the lifting phase and straighten your arms out all the way on the lowering phase.

6/12/25 Legs Workout

  • A1: Front squat (medium stance / heels flat), 3-4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Machine hack squat, 3-4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: Leg extension, 3-4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Bilateral seated leg curl (feet plantar flexed / pointing straight), 3-4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Machine hack squat, 3-4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B3: Bilateral machine leg extension, 3-4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest

6/12/25 “Pull” Workout

  • A1: Wide / overhand grip pull ups, 3-4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Barbell bent over row, 3-4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: 30 degree incline chest supported DB row, 3-4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: 45 degree incline DB curl (supinating grip), 3-4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Machine preacher curl (supinated grip), 3-4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B3: Standing ez-bar curl (wide / pronated grip), 3-4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest

The 6/12/25 method is an extremely effective all-around training method. It tends to work for a very large percentage of the training population.

The biggest exception to this rule is trainees with a large percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

If you are a fast-twitch machine who thrives on lower-rep sets then the 6/12/25 method may not work for you at all. Instead I recommend you give the following tri-set method a shot: 

Devil’s Tri-sets

The idea is simple: you are going to perform exactly 6 reps on each exercise in the tri-set. For example:

  • Exercise #1: 6 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • Exercise #2: 6 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • Exercise #3: 6 reps, rest 2-3 minutes

Every exercise is designed to target the fast-twitch muscle fibers. If you were blessed with a large percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers then you were made for devil’s tri-sets!

Despite the relatively lower rep ranges this training method will still work excellent for fat loss. The total time under tension of the set will be appreciable as you are stringing together three separate exercises. This is especially true if you use slower eccentric tempos on your sets.

Here is a sample Devil’s Tri-set arm workout that you may want to try. Check it out:

Devil’s Tri-set Arm Workout

  • A1: Standing cable pushdown (straight bar / supinated grip),  3-5 x 6, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Lying DB extension, 3-5 x 6, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: 30 degree incline bench press (shoulder-width grip), 3-5 x 6, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B1: Preacher ez-bar curl (narrow / supinated grip), 3-5 x 6, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Preacher DB curl (supinated grip), 3-5 x 6, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B3: Preacher ez-bar curl (wide / supinated grip), 3-5 x 6, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest

Here are the exercise videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise A3, exercise B1, exercise B2, exercise B3.

Don’t worry, you won’t go to hell for using this Devil’s Tri-sets arm workout. As long as the pope doesn’t make it a sin to have six-pack abs or a pair of sleeve-busting arms you should be good to go!

Part 4: Giant Sets

Giant sets are probably the most extreme fat loss protocol ever invented. You have to be a little bit crazy to attempt this training method.

The idea is simple: you are going to perform a circuit of at least 4 different exercises for the same body part with only 10 seconds rest in between exercises. For example:

  • Perform exercise #1, rest 10 seconds
  • Perform exercise #2, rest 10 seconds
  • Perform exercise #3, rest 10 seconds
  • Perform exercise #4, rest 2-4 minutes, repeat!

Giant sets are the secret weapon of IFBB professional bodybuilder Milos “The Mind” Sarcev. Milos used giant sets extensively during his own bodybuilding career to build his world-class physique.

Nowadays he uses them to help his bodybuilding clients get into shape unbelievably quickly. Milos often has his clients perform their giant sets with 10 different exercises for a single body part! This produces a crushing amount of lactic acid and is guaranteed to produce a skin-splitting pump.

If you are new to giant sets then I recommend you stick with circuits featuring only four exercises per body part. Here is a sample arm workout that you may want to try:

Arm Giant Set Workout

  • A1: Preacher ez-bar curl (narrow / pronated grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Seated DB zottman curl, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: 45 degree incline DB curl (supinating grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A4: Standing bilateral cable curl (pronated grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B1: V-bar dips (upright torso), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Rope cable overhead extension, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B3: Decline DB extension, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B4: Seated ez-bar french press, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest

This workout uses a wide variety of exercises to train both your elbow flexors and your triceps. I say “elbow flexors” rather than just “biceps” because this workout trains all of the muscles that flex the elbow:

  • The biceps brachii
  • The brachialis
  • The brachioradialis
  • The pronator teres

If you want to maximize the development of your upper arm then it is important to train all of these muscles, not just the biceps brachii.

Here is a sample lower body giant set workout that you may want to try. Check it out:

Lower Body Giant Sets Workout

  • A1: Front squat (medium stance / heels flat), 3 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Back squat (medium stance / heels flat), 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: Walking DB lunge, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A4: Leg press, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Bilateral seated leg curl (Poliquin method / feet pointed in), 3 x 6-8, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: DB stiff-legged deadlift, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B3: Bilateral lying leg curl (Poliquin method / feet pointed out), 3 x 6-8, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B4: 45 degree back extension (holding DB at chest, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest

Once again this workout uses a wide variety of exercise designed to overload different points in the strength curve. This is a very important point to remember when designing giant set workouts: you want to pick exercises that overload your muscles in a wide variety of ways. 

Of course someone like Milos Sarcev would never perform a giant set with just 4 exercises per body part.

A typical Milos Sarcev style giant set features at least 10 exercises performed back-to-back! This is an incredible way to train for fat loss.

The time under tension of the set is absolutely enormous which obviously results in an overwhelming amount of lactic acid production and growth hormone release.

Ben Pakulski often trained with these Milos Sarcev style giant sets while preparing for his bodybuilding competitions. Here is a sample chest workout that he has used in the past. Check it out:

Ben Pakulski Giant Sets Chest Workout

  • A1: 30 Incline bench, 3 x 5, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Cable crossover (cables positioned at floor), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Flat bench press (wide grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B3: 60 degree Incline DB fly, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B4: Decline bench press (wide grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B5: Flat machine press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B6: Flat DB fly, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B7: DB pullover, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B8: 45 degree incline smith press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B9: Pec dec machine, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest

Here are the exercise videos:

A1: Incline bench press

B1-B9: Giant set

For this workout Ben performs a few relatively heavy sets on the incline bench press before proceeding with his giant sets. This is a creative way to stimulate the fast-twitch muscle fibers before performing the giant sets for the more slow-twitch muscle fibers. 

Now let’s look at a typical giant sets workout for the upper back. Check it out:

Milos Sarcev Giant Sets Back Workout

  • A1: T-bar row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Rack pull, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: HS pulldown (supinated grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A4: Trap bar row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A5: DB pullover, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A6: Medium / neutral grip pulldown, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A7: Narrow / overhand grip pulldown, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A8: Medium / overhand grip pulldown, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A9: Narrow / semi-supinated grip cable row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest

Here is the exercise video:

This is a very interesting back workout by Milos Sarcev. It features a wide variety of exercises designed to build both the “width” and the “thickness” of the upper back.

Virtually every muscle fiber in your lats, teres major, traps, rhomboids and spinal erectors will be destroyed after a few rounds of this giant set!

Finally let’s look at a typical Milos Sarcev giant sets workout for the quadriceps. Performing giant sets for the quads is particularly painful as the quads are such a large muscle group. You need to have a very high pain tolerance to even think about performing this routine!

Check it out:

Milos Sarcev Giant Sets Leg Workout

  • A1: Alternating barbell lunge, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: Leg extension, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A3: Front squat, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A4: Pendulum squat, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A5: Box squat, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A6: Hack squat, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A7: Alternating DB lunge, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest

Here is the exercise video:

Giant sets are one of your greatest weapons in the war on fat loss. Just make sure you are not training in a typical commercial gym before attempting these routines.

Most commercial gyms are far too crowded for you to hog 10 different pieces of equipment at the same time!

Part 5: Escalating Density Training

And now for something completely different!

The concept of escalating density training has been around for a very long time. Many bodybuilders in the 1960s and 1970s were using the concept of density training to get in shape for their bodybuilding competitions.

Most traditional routines or training programs have you progress by adding weight to the bar or performing more repetitions.

Escalating density training is completely different: you are going to progress from one workout to the next by increasing the total number of sets that you perform! This is obviously a good thing in terms of fat loss because the more sets you perform in a workout the more lactic acid you produce.

There are a number of escalating density training protocols that you can use. However, my favourite escalating density training program was invented and popularized by the strength coach Charles Poliquin. He called it the 30-15-15 program.

Here is the basic escalating density training template:

  • A1 exercise: sets of 2 reps, no rest between sets
  • A2 exercise: sets of 2 reps, no rest between sets
  • B1 exercise: sets of 8 reps, no rest between sets
  • B2 exercise: sets of 8 reps, no rest between sets
  • C1 exercise: sets of 20 reps, no rest between sets
  • C2 exercise: sets of 20 reps, no rest between sets

You are going to train antagonistic body parts together. For example, you could perform the A1/B1/C1 exercises for your quadriceps and the A2/B2/C2 exercises for your hamstrings.

The “A” exercises are performed for 30 minutes straight while the “B” and “C” exercises are performed for 15 minutes straight. For example:

  • Minutes 0-30: “A” exercises
  • Minutes 31-45: “B” exercises
  • Minutes 46-60: “C” exercises

This workout should take you 60 minutes to complete in total. It is very important to be conservative with the weights that you use for each exercise.

I recommend you start out with your 8-rep max for the “A” exercises, your 20-rep max for the “B” exercise, and your 40-rep max for the “C” exercises. Remember, you are performing these exercises back to back with no rest. The weights will start to feel heavy faster than you think! 

Every time you repeat the workout your goal is to increase the total number of sets that you can complete in the pre-set time period.

For example on your first time performing this workout you may only complete 15 sets for each of the “A” exercises. That is perfectly OK. The next time you perform this workout you would use the exact same weights and try to increase the number of sets you perform.

For example on your second workout you may be able to perform as many as 18 sets. You want to make sure you are hitting a large number of sets for each exercise before you increase the weights.

Here are some minimum set numbers you should be hitting before you increase the weights:

  • “A” exercises: at least 25 sets before increasing the weights
  • “B” exercises: at least 10 sets before increasing the weights
  • “C” exercises: at least 10 sets before increasing the weights

I hope this all makes sense. Now let’s take a look at some sample escalating density workouts that you can start using today. I have battle-tested all of these workouts on both myself and my online coaching clients. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most effective ways to train for fat loss.

Check it out:

Chest / Biceps Escalating Density Workout

  • A1: 30 degree incline bench press, sets of 2**, 3/0/X/0, no rest
  • A2: Bilateral preacher DB curl (hammer grip), sets of 2**, 3/0/X/0, no rest
  • B1: Flat DB press, sets of 8***, 2/0/1/0, no rest
  • B2: Seated zottman curl, sets of 8***, 2/0/1/0, no rest
  • C1: Pec-dec machine, sets of 20****, 1/0/1/0, no rest
  • C2: Incline cable curl, sets of 20****, 1/0/1/0, no rest

**Perform the “A1/A2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 2 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 8-rep max.

***Perform the “B1/B2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 8 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 20-rep max.

****Perform the “C1/C2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 20 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 40-rep max.

Legs Escalating Density Workout

  • A1: Back squat (medium stance / heels flat), sets of 2**, 3/0/X/0, no rest
  • A2: Bilateral lying leg curl (Poliquin method / feet neutral), sets of 2**, 3/0/X/0, no rest
  • B1: Alternating DB reverse lunge, sets of 8***, 2/0/1/0, no rest
  • B2: Bilateral seated leg curls (feet plantar flexed / pointing in), sets of 8***, 2/0/1/0, no rest
  • C1: Leg extension, sets of 20****, 1/0/1/0, no rest
  • C2: Romanian deadlift, sets of 20****, 1/0/1/0, no rest

**Perform the “A1/A2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 2 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 8-rep max.

***Perform the “B1/B2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 8 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 20-rep max.

****Perform the “C1/C2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 20 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 40-rep max.

Back / Triceps Escalating Density Workout

  • A1: Narrow pronated-grip chin ups, sets of 2**, 3/0/X/0, no rest
  • A2: Decline bench press (shoulder-width grip), sets of 2**, 3/0/X/0, no rest
  • B1: Seated machine row, sets of 8***, 2/0/1/0, no rest
  • B2: Dead stop skull crushers, sets of 8***, 2/0/1/0, no rest
  • C1: Seated cable rope face pulls, sets of 20****, 1/0/1/0, no rest
  • C2: Bilateral standing cable rope pushdowns, sets of 20****, 1/0/1/0, no rest

**Perform the “A1/A2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 2 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 8-rep max.

***Perform the “B1/B2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 8 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 20-rep max.

****Perform the “C1/C2” exercises for 30 minutes straight. Perform as many sets of 20 in this time period as possible. I recommend you start out with your 40-rep max.

I want to give you a fair warning about what to expect from the escalating density training program. It is truly unlike anything you have ever tried in the gym. The pump that you get is very mild at first.

For the first few minutes of the workout it won’t feel like you’re accomplishing anything. But the fatigue slowly builds and builds and builds… By the time you are 15 minutes into your workout your muscles will feel like they are ready to explode!

To make things even crazier that feeling lasts for the entire duration of the workout. It’s quite difficult to explain this in an article. It is just something that you have to experience first-hand in the gym.

Conclusion

charles poliquin muscle

There are many effective ways to train for fat loss. However, in my experience the German Body Composition program, tri-sets, giant sets and the escalating density training program are all superior fat loss training protocols.

It does not matter if you are preparing for your next bodybuilding competition or just trying to lose that “spare tire” around your waist. If you want to get results as quickly as possible then these 4 programs will do it faster than anything else.

If you want more help with designing your own fat loss training programs then you can check out my online coaching program. Yes, nutrition will make or break your fat loss efforts. But a properly designed training program can dramatically improve your results. 

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck in your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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