Conditioning, Fat Loss and "Interference Effect" on Muscle

Coach going off one of your recent Instagram videos you talk about getting a head start on fat loss for summer and not waiting until it’s too late.

I am wondering WHERE I can incorporate 3 or more days of conditioning without losing any hard earned strength and hypertrophy and possibly even still GAINING strength and hypertrophy.

My schedule is:

Mon- Bench day (Chest/Biceps)
Tue- Off
Wed- Squat day (Legs/abs)
Thu- Overhead press day (Shoulders/Triceps)
Fri- Off
Sat- Deadlift day (Back/Traps)
Sun- Off

My top conditioning choices are

Hill sprints- sprint up hill for 20 or 30 sec. Rest 2 or 3 min including walk back down the hill

Assault bike- 20 to 30 sec sprints. 2 or 3 min recovery

Jump rope- 25 min off and on

Battle rope- 1 min intervals for 15 min

I would like to add these somewhere to my training either on an off day or lifting day without hurting strength muscle but dont know where to put them.

Any suggestions are appreciated. Thank u coach!

I could also do the true every other day split if it would help program conditioning…


Ok, first, adding 3 hard conditioning days right off the bat is too much too fast.

That’s the perfect example of starting a new goal using all the tools at your disposal right from the start because you are too eager to reach your goal(s). This pretty much always backfires as you either end up with injuries (sudden increases in training stress is the no.1 cause of non-impact training injuries), drained or plateaued after 4-6 weeks with nothing else to add as you are already topped off a far as tolerable training is concerned.

A fat loss phase should be planned, and periodized in a logical and progressive way, just like a strength phase is.

This means gradually adding fat loss tools ON A NEED-TO BASIS.

This is even truer for hard/intense conditioning because it is the type of work that likely creates the most central fatigue, which has the most profound negative impact on lifting performance, and thus on muscle maintenance (or gain).

Normally I plan fat loss phases for 10 to 12 weeks depending on how much fat there is to lose. NOTE, that is for normal fat loss phases, not blitzes which are a different approach that can be used but requires special precautions.

Strictly from a fat loss perspective, hard/intense conditioning is the LAST thing I want to increase in a fat loss phase as it has the most potential drawbacks (even on muscle loss… it was recently compared to lower intensity cardio and found to cause more muscle loss), especially on fatigue and recovery.

In fact, when I start a fat loss phase with a client I pretty much never include high intensity energy systems work during the first 4 weeks. I use exclusively diet, LISS and increased locomotion (walking more) to lose fat. My goal during this phase being to program the body to be more efficient at using fat for fuel. Which is why, ironically, the first 4 weeks of a fat loss phase is where carbs intake is at its LOWEST (fats are higher).

During this first phase I typically add 20-30 minutes of LISS at the end of every lifting session and one 45-60 minutes walk with a weight vest or backpack per week.

In the second phase I will either increase the duration of the LISS sessions (to 35-40 min) OR (not both) replace one of the post-workout LISS sessions with an intense (but short) conditioning session… mostly farmer’s walks and/or prowler pushing.

This also occurs with a slight increase in lifting volume (maybe 2-3 more sets total per workout) AND an increase in carbs intake (to fuel the added intense work). Note that calories do not go up. They might stay the same (if the rate of progress is around 1-1.5% of bodyweight per week) or decrease slightly. Protein stays the same (that’s important) so fats are decreased.

This second phase also typically last 4 weeks.

The third week will see an increase in training density with the use of a bit more intensification methods and we also replace another one of the post-workout LISS sessions by a short hight intensity conditioning session (so now we are at 2 LISS, 2 high intensity and one loaded walk per week).

Carbs are increased a bit again (and fats decreased), and we shift more of the carbs to the evening meals to facilitate sleep and relaxation which will suck at this point.

This third phase is also typically 4 weeks long.

And these are normally the 12 weeks of a fat loss phase. ONLY in extreme cases (e.g. physique competition, photoshoot) do I add a 4th phase, which is the beast mode phase. This is a phase to go from very lean to competitively lean. It is only to be used:

  1. If the client is super lean already and need to get ridiculously, unhealthily lean
  2. If the client understand and accept that this phase WILL cause some problems that will need to be fixed afterwards and that it might take a while to correct
  3. If the client understand that these last 2-4 weeks (depending on leanness and desired leanness) will absolutely suck and that he won’t be a shadow of himself on a daily basis.

In that 4th phase we pull-out all the stops to atteint ultimate leanness. Which means, low carbs AND low fat, LISS on every OFF day and hard conditioning on every lifting day.

I would NEVER recommend this approach in a normal fat loss plan. It’s only for those who are willing to accept the consequences to get contest lean.


@Christian_Thibaudeau Thank you for the reply.

From what I take from this is to gradually reintroduce the sessions back into my training.

My goal is to lose some body fat and stay that lean look for summer. I do NOT want to get single digit or contest ready because I do not compete and it is less likely to maintain.

I’m currently 17% right now based off my scale which I know those aren’t 100% accurate but gives me an idea. I’d like to get down between 12-14% or lower if possible.

The best thing for me to do then, is to walk on my off days and to gradually add in harder conditioning after lifting sessions?

I remember an article you said that the 2 best types of cardio for Natural lifters is either to go walking or to do hard as hell cardio with full recovery (30 to 60 sec full speed with 2 to 3 min rest)

So that is what I going to base it off of.

But I dont want to interfere with muscle gain

The moment you attempt to lose fat you will interfere with muscle gain. Not so much because of the cardio (although it could play a role if it becomes excessive) but mostly due to the hormonal and enzymatic changes from being in a caloric deficit (which is not the only factor involved in losing fat, but is required).

That doesn’t necessarily mean losing muscle or even stopping muscle growth altogether, but it will certainly slow it down. Which, by definition, is interfering with muscle growth.

Sadly, a natural lifter must make a choice. And if getting leaner is a priority he must accept making much less progress than if he is ingesting a caloric surplus.


Thank u

CT,what you think is harder for older {50+] lifter - gain muscle or lose fat ?
your point of view from the years of experience

Gaining muscle, and it’s not even close.

Losing fat as you are getting older isn’t that much harder than in younger individuals.

Regardless of the age of an individual, if they are in a caloric deficit (either through eating less, increasing physical activity or both) and a have fairly high protein intake, they will lose fat. Heck, my own father lost over 50lbs of fat after the age of 60 simply by being a lot more active and eating better. And he sustained that fat loss for almost 20 years (until his death).

Now, older individuals might find that they have a harder time losing fat, but when that happens it’s mostly that:

  1. They have lost muscle with the years, less muscle leads to a lower metabolic rate/energy expenditure. Making it harder to be in a deficit

  2. They tend to be a lot less physically active than when they were younger.

However building muscle IS harder as you are getting older, it just is. For many reasons:

  1. Decrease in anabolic hormone levels (testosterone, growth hormone, IGF-1)

  2. Reduction in neurological efficiency making it harder to recruit the fast-twitch fibers

  3. Accumulation of more injuries and/or health issues

  4. And, if the older individual has been training for years, they likely are a lot closer to their genetic potential then when they were younger and it’s harder to keep building muscle. An average natural individual has the potential to gain 30-40lbs of muscle tissue over what his normal adult weight would have been. If they gained 30lbs already, they probably don’t have much muscle growth left.

  5. Again with older individuals with lots of lifting experience: the body simply becomes adapted/habituated to resistance training. It thus becomes very hard to stimulate more growth as the body doesn’t see a need for it.

Heck, even in younger individuals, losing fat is a lot easier than building muscle. We often give the advice to shoot for around 1.5 - 2lbs of fat loss per week, which is conservative an sustainable until you reach very low body fat levels. I’ve personally lost 36lbs in 8 weeks using a blitz approach (not smart, but I still did it).

But there is no way anyone will gain 1.5 - 2.0lbs of muscle per week Even if using steroids that would likely be too much to ask.

An average rate of muscle gain of 0.25 to 0.5lbs per week is VERY good (that’s 12-25lbs of muscle in a year, something that few non-beginners will achieve) whereas the same 12-25lbs of fat loss can be realistically achieved in 6-16 weeks.


thank you CT