T Nation

Most Important Factors for Lat Loss Program?


Hi Christian,

Your training principles have served me very well for gaining strength & muscle. So 1st of all I want to thank you for that. I hope you will continue this work for a long time as you are an inspiration to many of us.

I decided to finally shed the fat as it will make the biggest difference in how my physique looks like. Of course I would like to maintain my current strength / muscle levels. I would love to draw on your expertise to help me achieving this.

What would your consider as the most important factors for a fat loss programme that maintains strenght/muscle levels:

Strength work:
Think this is quite clear that strength work is the base to maintain current levels. However, your thinking seems to have evolved from high frequency strength training to 1 main lift per day (layers - even when not originally designed for fat loss). What's your current take on this?

Work capacity/metabolic conditioning:
E.g. complexes like in the Indigo fat loss/hypertrophy programme, in order to raise metabolic rate. Think this is also a must to include?

Lactic Acid training (to failure):
This seems to be Poliquin recommended approach for fat loss and you have written about this in the past in 'Warroom strategies to maximise fat loss'. The evidence behind this approach looks pretty solid but you seem to have stepped away from this?

Long duration cardio:
I think it's safe to say that this should NOT be the focus, but could still be useful to integrate a short 20 mins cardio after the metabolic conditioning sessions?

I suspect my recovery ability to be compromised due to dieting, so I want to spend my 'training money' wisely to get maximum results. Also, unfortunately I don't have access to Biotest supplements as shipping fees to Europe are crazy. Of course I do have access to other supplements.

Also, how would you combine these different factors in a programme? E.g. better to separate strength days from other work or combine them on one day (à la Indigo programmes).

PS I am 40 yrs old, fat% between 15-20% and will be able to train 5-6 days/week in the coming 2-3 months.

Sorry for the long mail but hope you'll find some time to give your advise.


Use diet to lose fat, not your lifting session. That’s the most important thing.

Here are the keys I consider to be the most important:

  1. Use diet, not lifting to lose fat. The role of lifting during a fat loss phase is to avoid muscle loss

  2. Do everything you can to maintain or even increase your strength. If you are maintaining your strength you are not losing muscle

  3. Considering no.2 it’s best to use heavy lifting when dieting down, not higher reps with shorter rest intervals or things like supersets. BUT do not go maximal (sets of 1-3 reps) especially after you have lose some weight since your joints will tend to be more fragile when you diet down. Heavy work for 4-6 reps is ideal.

  4. Use a minimalist approach. First because you will have a limited capacity to recover because of the lower caloric/nutrients intake so you cannot waste energy on inferior exercises. Second because realistically you wont be adding muscle mass, if any, during a fat loss phase so it’s pointless to do tons of isolation work to hit every muscle. Stick to big compound movements, every muscle will get enough stimulation to be maintained if your strength is maintained or increased.

  5. DO NOT start with a kitchen sink approach, only add tools when they are needed. Losing fat is an emotional issue: we are sick of the way we look and we want to lose the fat NOW! So a lot of people start out their fat loss program by doing everything possible at once to lose the fat… they start with a super high caloric restriction, lift everyday, do conditioning work several times a week, add low intensity cardio every morning or at the end of every workout and use a fat burner. The thing is that:

a) the body will eventually adapt to that and you will stop progressing… what then? You can’t add anything since you are already doing it all… and you can’t cut more calories since you are already consuming next to nothing.

b) you’ll burn out… such a crazy regimen is not sustainable over the long run. I remember when I was younger, I did a bodybuilding competition and spent 3 months doing the craziest regimen possible… super low calories, cardio every morning, two lifting sessions a day, sprints a few times per week. After 6 weeks I felt like a zombie and felt depressive… I kept up with it because of the competition. But I ended losing 13lbs of lean body mass in the final month and when the competition was over I spent 4 months without being able to set a foot in a gym and ate fast food every single day.

Start with the minimum tools needed to get good results (a solid diet and heavy lifting), when progress stalls you can add some additional work (e.g. conditioning work twice a week), your progress will resume, when you stagnate again you can add some more work (one more conditioning session), when you stagnate again you can add 20-30 minutes of cardio once or twice a week after your workouts, etc. Be progressive… the ones who reach their body composition goals and who can maintain it long term are those who are able to stick to their plan for the longest.

  1. The only thing that matter is progress. People tend to judge how effective what they did is based on how much work they did or how fatigued they feel. The only things that matter are objective measures of progress:
  • Are you gaining strength or at least maintaining it?
  • If your body weight going down?
  • Do you look leaner in the mirror

These are the things that matter… but a lot of people pride themselves on how much they are doing, how serious they are… IT DOESN’T MATTER… THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS PROGRESSION!


Great points…CT how much volume on the compounds and how much frequency would you recommend? Practically, 3x a week might be the fastest fat loss (because you can cycle low calories on off days) although for those of us still wanting to train 6x a week like OP, how would you structure it?

Maybe a training ramp to 5RM -> -10%, 20 min of Density work (4-6 reps) -> Dips/Chins?


This is really great information Christian. Many thanks, you have exceeded my expectations (once again) !!!
So diet combined with a regime of heavy lifting on the compound exercises it will be until that stops working.
Would you rather go for full body workouts (eg Squat, Bench, Pull up) or layer approach with one main lift per day?
Also would love to hear your opinion on Sigil’s questions on volume, frequency and loading.


CT, is there a way one could modify the “Built For Bad” strength circuits for use during a fat loss cycle? Perhaps 6/5/4 ?




[quote]crowbar46 wrote:
CT, is there a way one could modify the “Built For Bad” strength circuits for use during a fat loss cycle? Perhaps 6/5/4 ?


Crowbar [/quote]

6-6-4-4 you don’t necessarily have to drop a rep on every set


Makes perfect sense, thanks so much.



I looked into the Built for Bad strength circuits and like the approach. After having read also the comments I came to the following setup …

Mon / Wed / Fri (lower frequency to cope with reduced recovery during fat loss + unfortunately no access to Plazma or other Biotest supps):
Strength Circuit:
A1 Squat
A2 Bench
A3 High Pull
A4 Military
A5 Lat Pulldown
Sets & reps: 2 sets of 6 at 80%, 2 sets of 4 at 85% (aiming to add weight every week, if possible)

Tue / (Thu) / Sat
Lower volume density work on 2-3 basic lifts at 80% (no circuit), 15 reps total performed as singles, doubles or triples EMOTM

Makes sense?


[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]crowbar46 wrote:
CT, is there a way one could modify the “Built For Bad” strength circuits for use during a fat loss cycle? Perhaps 6/5/4 ?


Crowbar [/quote]

6-6-4-4 you don’t necessarily have to drop a rep on every set[/quote]

Would you still train the strength circuits M-F?