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Periodization for Fat Loss

Hey Coach,

Hope you’re doing great!

I’m currently finishing the 2nd week of your ‘beat the apocalypse-bodyweight program’. It’s pretty awesome so far. I never thought bodyweight exercises with adjusted training methods could hurt so good!

Since the gyms in my country are normally opening again mid-december, I’m already planning on my next macrocycle for fatloss. According to your neurotyping courses muscle fiber fatigue, mTor and lactate/GF would be the best training pathways used.

Would you mind taking a look at the general approach I would use for a 12-week macrocycle?

4 phases (each phase last 3 weeks):
Block 1:
Acc1: 3 x 10-12 (muscle fiber fatigue in a workout, 16-20 total worksets)
Int 1: 3 x 6-8 (muscle fiber fatigue in a set, 10-14 total worksets)
Block 2:
Acc 2: 3 x 8-10 (mTor activation, 16-20 worksets)
Int 2: 3 x 6/6/6 (/means dropset) (muscle fiber fatigue in a set, 10-14 worksets)

Volume gradually goes down in all 4 phases, intensity gradually goes up to create an anti-muscle loss stimulus. Intensity fluctuations between mesocycles are 8-9% and 4% between block 1 and 2.

Training frequency: 3-4/week
Workout split: UB/LW/UP/LW

Energy systems work gets added gradually from week to week (same cardio protocol as beat the apocalypse basically).


That’s the exact OPPOSITE of the approach I use with clients dieting down.

I periodize both nutrition and training, but using nutrition as the foundation of the plan.

I actually start with a low carbs approach and gradually add carbs from phase to phase (calories are still normally going down from phase to phase as the activity level increases).

The reason is that a low carbs approach at the beginning will upregulate the capacity to mobilize and use fat for fuel. And also because you are just starting out the dieting down process, there will not be a huge stress response on the body.

The longer you stay in a caloric deficit, the more stress the body is under and the more metabolic adaptations (e.g. lowering T3 levels leading to a lower energy expenditure).

If you lower training volume from phase to phase AND your body will have metabolic adaptations to the caloric deficit, you will need to lower calories A LOT to keep losing fat in the last portions of the cutting phase. This will lead to an even larger stress response, more cortisol, more likely muscle loss, problems sleeping and feeling like crap overall.

Carbs are actually the best “tool” to lower cortisol and adrenaline. Helping you recover and sleep better.

What we do diet-wise is as follow:

PHASE 1: Very low carbs diet (sometimes keto)
PHASE 2: Still very low carbs, but we add carbs around the workouts
PHASE 3: Low (not very low) carbs; with carbs ingested around the workouts and in the evening (both to lower cortisol and adrenaline)
PHASE 4: Carbs are present (in a small amount) in most meals, besides breakfast.

Note that protein intake stays the same for the 4 phases and calories tend to go down from phase to phase, but only as needed.

For energy systems it looks like this:

PHASE 1: Only low intensity, steady-state cardio. Normally 20-30 minutes added at the end of the workouts.
PHASE 2: Mostly low intensity steady-state with 1-2 added intervals sessions (normally 6-8 minutes after the steady-state, using 15 sec intense/45 sec easy intervals)
PHASE 3: We use more intervals. We normally keep some steady state in as “warm-up” for the intervals and perform intervals 3-4 days a week for 8-10 minutes using 30/30 intervals.
PHASE 4: Same as phase 3 but we might increase the duration and/or intensity of the intervals or use loaded carries

As for lifting we normally start with a lower volume/heavier weight phase and each phase we add a bit of volume and/or reduce rest intervals. The last phase is the only phase where we use lifting as an additional fat loss tool with circuits or GBC-type work.

Often the first phase will use a whole-body approach 3x a week using only big basic lifts plus one GAP session (isolated work for weaknesses).

Phase 2 can either use the same setup or go to an upper/lower split 4x a week.

Phase 3 will normally use an antagonist split (chest/biceps, quads/hams, back/triceps, delts/traps/rhomboids)

Phase 4 normally goes back to a whole-body approach but using more circuits, GBC-type work or "strongman-type’ work.

This set-up allows us to increase carbs every phase which helps keep cortisol lower but also gives the client a psychological advantage (more carbs = doesn’t feel as restricted).


Training wise I understand your progression. Cardio wise I have 2 questions:

  1. If your workout lasts 50-60 minutes and is based on muscle fiber fatigue or low volume high intensitivity, doesn’t 20-30 minutes of cardio post-workout increase cortisol too much?
  2. Phase 2-4: are you performing the intervals 3-4 hours after the workout and on off days? Or do you do them straight after?

Nutritionally speaking I’m honestly left a bit confused coach. I can see why you would use the low carb approach, but in your neurotyping courses you stated very clearly that low carb is the worst diet approach for a type 3 due to their naturally elevated cortisol and adrenalin levels. Going low carb and being in a deficit would only increase their stress and cortisol output.

As you’ve said, carbs are the best tool to lower cortisol and adrenaline, helping with sleep and recovery. Why would you take them out?

As long as you’re in a caloric deficit, training is done hard + smart and protein intake is sufficient, does it really matter that much if you go high or low carb? Won’t you lose the same amount of fat if the deficit is the same?

Thank you as always.

Low-intensity steady-state cardio doesn’t raise cortisol much (at that duration at least). If anything it can indirectly lower cortisol by acting as a cool down, helping lower adrenaline too.

We’re not talking about fast pace or long duration here.

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Ideally on off days or as an AM session. But some people do have to do it with the workouts because that’s the only time they can do it. Again, you might be scared to cortisol, but honestly while excess cortisol is problematic we must not be scared of training either.

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We do modify the diet based on neurotype. A type 3 will have more carbs, but the carb progression would still stand…

The logical is not using low carbs, my logic is adding carbs as the diet progresses.

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That is a bit simplistic.

When you look at the science, studies, when averaged out show similar fat loss regardless of carbs/fat rations provided a similar caloric/protein intake. So a lot of people like to say that it doesn’t matter where calories come from and that is completely false. Heck, even yourself said that lower carbs would lead to more cortisol… well, cortisol if is chronically elevated can lower metabolic rate by reducing T4 to T3 conversion. A low carbs diet can thus have a different outcome than a low fat diet.

Furthermore the problem is that studies look at the average weight/fat loss of the whole study population. In a group you can have a few subjects that had huge weight losses while the bulk stayed stable and the average could indicate a good amount of fat loss. While the other group, everybody could have had significant fat loss, but no subject reporting huges losses… the average of both groups can be the same but the second group had better results across the board.

Let’s create two small groups to illustrate this:

Subject 1 lost 5lbs
Subject 2 lost 3lbs
Subject 3 lost 13lbs
Subject 4 lost 13lbs
Subject 5 lost 2lbs
Subject 6 lost 2lbs
Subject 7 lost 4lbs
Average fat loss = 6lbs

Subject 1 = Lost 7lbs
Subject 2 = Lost 6lbs
Subject 3 = Lost 6lbs
Subject 4 = Lost 5lbs
Subject 5 = Lost 7lbs
Subject 6 = Lost 5lbs
Subject 7 = Lost 6lbs
Average loss = 6lbs

Both groups would show the same average fat loss BUT I would say that the diet used by group 2 was better for most.

Finally different people respond to nutrients a different way. From a brain chemistry perspective and physiologically. Some people are genetically born with a greater affinity with fats than carbs and vice versa. For example, Scandinavian populations tend to do better on a higher fat diet whereas an Asian population does better on a higher carbs diet.

So it is completely false to say that the nutrients ratio doesn’t matter.

I may have been too quick to go talk about the low-carbs approach (although this is what we use with most clients), the thing to remember is more that you should increase carbs as the diet progresses while decreasing caloric intake (if needed).

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Ok now it makes more sense to me. Thanks for clearing that up coach, honestly.