My weight training hasn’t actually changed much during the leptin reset from what Martin Berkhan advises on Leangains, which is a focus on compound movements, heavy, low rep and low volume using Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT) (1).
The only significant change is the lack of cardio apart from a short sprint session of 7 minutes (30s fast/30s slow) on the treadmill once or twice per week depending on energy levels and time. To be fair, Martin advises against cardio for fat loss on Leangains but the stubborn streak in me runs pretty deep!
Reverse Pyramid Training
If you’re unfamiliar with RPT it’s very simple. In a typical routine you progressively increase your weights over a number of sets. The final set would be your heaviest but at this point your muscles are already fatigued. With RPT you start with the heaviest weight, when you are at your freshest and then lower for any subsequent sets. For a more detailed explanation of RPT, read Martin’s article here.
Warming Up & Switching On
After a couple of recent injuries I’m extremely careful with my warmup, I usually do 2–3 warm up sets using up to 60% of my max weight before I go into my first actual set. I then lower the weight by 10% for the second set. I also allow at least 3 minutes between sets and up to 6 minutes when squatting or deadlifting.
I do sometimes find it difficult to go ‘all out’ on that first set because it doesn’t feel like my body has properly ‘switched on’ yet. When that happens, I repeat the second set and add a third where I lower by 10%.
Less is More
I train 3 days per week, usually every other day but if I feel I need an extra day’s rest I will take it. The key to this way of training is getting the level of intensity right. You have to make every set count.
Surprisingly, training less often has been one of the hardest parts of this whole process and I still have to fight the urge not to do more and stop the feeling that I am somehow cheating by taking a day off.
Focus on the target
One of the ways I’ve kept out of the gym is to remind myself what I’m trying to achieve. My goal isn’t to rack up as many days or hours in the gym as possible. It’s to get leaner and stronger in the most efficient manner possible.
Admittedly, that in itself is still too vague and needs a much clearer definition. This is why I like John Fotheringham’s ‘Mission’ approach to his goals where he clearly states the key objective, secondary objectives, methods, rules and tools. I highly recommend you read his Body Mission post.
Signing the Contract
We spend hours researching and deciding what plan to follow but the seemingly simple task of writing it all down is usually neglected. I’m definitely guilty of this and my usual excuse is that I have it all worked out in my head but in reality this step is the actual commitment, it’s ‘signing the contract’ and in my opinion one of the main success factors , yet despite this I still haven’t done it with John’s level of clarity!
It’s All in Your Head
Even though it’s been counterproductive for me physically, this desire to train more is also driven by wanting to achieve that mental clarity that comes after a good workout. That’s when I am at my sharpest and most productive which is why I always preferred to train in the morning. I usually have at least 2 hours of laser like focus where I seem to be able to breeze through even the most complex tasks.
Dr Kruse advises training after 17:00 during the reset. The earliest I can start my workout is at 19:00 and I’m home by 20:30. I already find it difficult to switch off and get to sleep as early as I’d like so I do feel that training in the evening is impacting my sleep and that I’m also losing out on that productivity window.
Overall I’m pleased with my progress in the gym. My weights are steadily increasing particularly on the back and shoulders exercises which were never my favourite body parts to train. I do seem to have stalled on the bench press but I’ve never been particularly strong on this lift so there is still some tweaking to be done.
1. You will see from the table that my only exception to the rule is when training calves, which seem to respond better to higher volume and reps. I do however have one workout per month where I only do 1–2 very low rep heavy sets.