A Bowlful of Jelly

I’ve got a little round belly
That shakes when I laugh,
Like a bowlful of jelly…

It’s gotten to be a holiday tradition. Every year, around Christmas time, I go home to Michigan to visit relatives and friends. And every year, despite my best intentions, I come back carrying an extra five or six pounds of blubber. I half-expect the goons at the airport x-ray machines to notice the bulge in my shirt and strip-search me to expose the dynamite-packed vest I’m no doubt wearing.

Since when did tempting your friends or relatives with tray after tray of lipid-laced goodies become a way of showing your affection? I don’t eat crap during the year, but when I visit home, I feel like I’m in some sort of dietary cat house. Instead of being enticed by a parade of loamy-loined babes, I’m confronted by an endless stream of apple pies, Christmas tortes, cookies, brownies, and fried foods (yes, fried!), all of whom shout, “Try me, I know how to show a sailor a good time!”

Given that I’m a dietary celibate during the year, all this food is just a little too much temptation. I nibble a bit here and a bit there, feeling a little proud that I’m able to resist doing a double half-gainer into a plate of buffalo wings and ranch dip. Trouble is, no matter how many dishes I turn down, the cumulative effect of taking about ten or eleven thousand nibbles sends my liver into overdrive, Fed-exing package after holiday package of fat over to the gut for storage.

Maybe it’s some sort of plot. Maybe all the Michiganders are druids, and they’re fattening me up for some pagan ritual. I should have realized it that one morning when I woke up to find my father-in-law brushing me with a honey-mustard glaze and my mother-in-law shoving an apple in my mouth.

Well, just as obscuring my abs with fat has become a yearly tradition, so has the January and February fat-loss training program. It’s not a New Year’s resolution, mind you. I don’t make resolutions. It’s just a harried response to the environmental anomaly commonly known as holiday overeating.

I don’t do a bunch of aerobics, either. I largely agree with Nelson Montana’s views on aerobics and fat loss. In a nutshell (a candied nutshell, no doubt), traditional aerobic training interferes with strength gains. Instead, I use a modified version of something Charles Poliquin calls “The German Body Comp Program.”

The entire program can be capsulized in one sentence: keep your rep ranges high and your rest intervals short. If you ask Charles about it, he’ll tell you that there’s a direct relationship between lactate and growth hormone. In other words, if you elevate your lactate levels by doing lots of work in a short amount of time, you’ll cause your pituitary gland to spew GH like a lawn sprinkler. This GH will, in turn, cause an overall decrease in fat mass. He cites researchers like Romanian exercise scientist Hala Rambie and American exercise expert William Kramer.

Both conducted experiments showing that a dramatic increase in GH production occurred with sets of ten as opposed to sets of five. Furthermore, rest periods of 30 to 60 seconds were superior in this regard to longer rest periods.

Sure, I’ll buy all that. But do I believe that the exercise-induced elevation of GH is responsible for all of the fat loss experienced through the German Body Comp Program? Nahh. Hell, you can inject pure GH into people and it won’t cause all that much fat loss (unless you’re grossly deficient in GH).

I think fat loss is a lot more complex and involves a pretty intricate interplay between several sex steroids and GH. Of course, on the other hand, fat loss is a lot simpler, too. If you conduct a greater amount of work in a given amount of time, you’ll burn more fuel. That’s what the German Body Comp Program does.

In reality, the program is actually somewhat aerobic, only this aerobic program won’t burn up any muscle tissue. In fact, most people who undertake it actually put on muscle. Why? Well, just like any new program, it exposes your muscles and nervous system to new stimuli, and hypertrophy is the result. You may not actually gain any weight, but you’ll undoubtedly improve your fat to lean body mass ratio.

The program is simple. You can easily devise your own Body Comp Program by keeping a few principles in mind:

  1. Super set all exercises. For instance, do a set of a lower body exercise, and follow it up with an upper body exercise.

  2. Keep rep ranges, in general, between 8 and 12 (although you may want to do some sets of 15-20).

  3. Rest only 30 to 60 seconds between sets. If your first movement in an upper/lower body superset is squats, you might want to rest 60 seconds before attempting your second movement. However, if your first exercise is a fairly “easy” exercise, like leg extensions, you might only wish to wait 30 seconds before doing the second part of the superset.

  4. Do a different Body Comp workout each day, doing three or four workouts a week. (Charles’ actual program involves 12 separate workouts, done in succession. After the 12 workouts are completed, you simply start with the first one again. This whole “cycle” can be done up to three times, depending on how much fat you want to dump.)

  5. Work larger muscle groups, such as quads, back, and chest, earlier in the workout.

  6. Try to keep a balance between all body parts so that none are neglected.

I’ve included three such sample workouts at the end of this article. Remember, though, that these aren’t the exact workouts that appear in Charles’ program. I’ve modified them. For instance, Charles believes in taking a little more rest after working some of the larger body parts. Like after doing a set of back squats, he might suggest resting up to 120 seconds. I tried it that way, and it didn’t work that well for me, so I cut the rest periods in half.

Furthermore, Charles recommends chewing on a slab of Canadian bacon in between sets, but I think fat loss is more easily accomplished if you forgo eating hog meat. Wait a minute…I’m sorry, he recommends eating Canadian bacon during sex. All this high-volume, low-rest work got me confused.

Now, you have a few choices of how you can structure this workout. You can use the “templates” I’ve provided to help you structure your own workouts. You can use my three modified Poliquin workouts and write nine more of your own. Of course, that may be a real pain in the ass to a lot of you. You can, instead, just write three more for a total of six and go on a six-workout cycle. That would probably work nearly as well, and you could simply stop doing the cycles once you’ve reached the desired body fat percentage.

Your last choice is to simply buck up and buy Charles’ book. It has the distinctly weenie title of “Manly Weight Loss,” but the information is good. We only have a limited supply in stock. So if you want a copy, call our toll-free order number at 1-800-525-1940.

The book lists all 12 workouts, including some sample diets that you may want to use in conjunction with the program. (Personally, I drink about four meal replacements a day, having a snack and a sensible meal along the way. Simple, but effective.) It also lists some suggested supplements, but since another company paid to reprint the book, no Biotest supplements are included. Oh, well. That’s the way business goes.

I have to tell you, though, that if you’re not used to this kind of workout and if your aerobic capacity sucks, you’re going to feel like pulling a Linda Blair. You’ll get used to it…either that, or you’ll die and you won’t have to worry about trivial things like fat. Personally (WARNING: SENSORS DETECT A PRODUCT PLUG APPROACHING…), I find that a scoop of Power Drive, taken about 45 minutes beforehand, allows me to work out without weeping and cursing my friends and relatives for sabotaging my waistline.

Try the workout and let us know what you think.

Sample Workout 1

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo* Rest
A1. Lying Leg Curls (Pull toes in toward the body as you raise the weight and extend them away from the body as you lower the weight.) 3 15-20 201 45 sec.
A2. Seated Cable Row to Neck 3 15-20 211 30 sec.
B1. Seated Leg Curls 3 8-10 402 30 sec.
B2. Incline Dumbbell Presses With Rotation (Use a 45-degree incline. Start with palms facing each other and pronate hands while pressing the dumbbells.) 3 10-12 301 30 sec.
C1. Hamstring Leg Presses (Place feet high on platform.) 3 10-20 201 45 sec.
C2. Seated Incline Curls (Use a 45-degree angle. Keep wrists cocked back.) 3 8-10 301 30 sec.
D1. Dumbbell Shrugs 3 10-12 201 30 sec.
D2. Swiss Ball Crunches 3 8-10 202 30 sec.

* Tempo refers to how fast you should do the movement. The first number means how many seconds you should take to do the eccentric, or lowering, part of the movement. The second number means how long you should pause between the eccentric and the concentric portion of the lift. And the third number, of course, refers to how fast you should lift or raise the weight.

Sample Workout 2

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo* Rest
A1. Front Split Squats (Front foot should be elevated, elevate the forward foot 5-8 inches and turn the lead foot slightly outward.) 3 10-12 303 30 sec.
A2. Close-Parallel Grip Pulldowns to Chest 3 10-12 221 30 sec.
B1. Good Mornings 3 8-10 402 45 sec.
B2. Flat Dumbbell Presses 3 10-12 221 30 sec.
C1. Seated Calf Raises 3 15-20 101 30 sec.
C2. California Skull Crushers 3 10-12 201 30 sec.
D1. Upright Rows 3 10-12 201 30 sec.
D2. Leg Lifts Off a Bench 3 8-10 201 30 sec.

Sample Workout 3

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo* Rest
A1. Back Squats 3 15-20 201 1 min.
A2. Bent-Over Rows (Pull the barbell to the sternum and pause briefly. Keep a slight curve in the back.) 3 10-12 212 1 min.
B1. Straight Leg Deadlifts (Despite the name, keep a slight bend in the knees.) 3 10-12 501 30 sec.
B2. Wide Grip Sternum Lat Pulldowns 3 10-12 321 30 sec.
C1. Dumbbell Lunges (Turn foot slightly out. Push off explosively.) 3 10-12 20X 45 sec.
C2. Standing Close-Grip Barbell Curls 3 10-12 401 30 sec.
D1. Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extensions 3 10-12 201 30 sec.
D2. Leg Lifts Off a Bench or Swiss Ball 3 8-10 201 30 sec.