T Nation

Revisiting the effectiveness of Meltdown Training

I’m starting my cutting cycle on Monday. After tapping into the knowledge of T-Nation I decided to go on the Fat Fast and use Meltdown training.

I went into the archives tonight and found a serious debate between Joel Marion and some others in regards to using Meltdown or 5x5. I want to start on Monday, my bodyfat is up to about 18%( 13% in August) and I need to start cutting. But what should I use, Meltdown or 5x5. I plan on using 4AD for 30 days while using the Fat Fast and Meltdown. And then I’ll ease into T-Dawg, gradually add more carbs back in, and move to 5x5. I’d love to hear some more opinions on people that have tried both programs in combination with a cutting program.

I personaly found Meltdown II to be more caloricly (is this a word?) taxing on my body than meltdown I and 5x5. But I like them all and urge you to try them. I would say 5x5 fits more in a strength / Mass phase than a fat loss stage.

There seems to be a ‘loose’ agreement on the forum that Meltdown I is very suitable for those in the “higher” bodyfat ranges. That is, about 12% or so. If you’re looking to bust into the single digits, you’ll need to apply a strength training / maximal weights approach to hold onto your strength & mass.

If Meltdown I is for 12% or so body fat, what program is good for 20% or more?

Meltdown1 for 12%+, or you could do Fat to Fire.

Thanks for your feedback. That is what my take is on these workouts, I just wanted to get some more feedback. I do plan on moving onto the 5x5 after I finish my Meltdown training. I also plan on doing some HIIT cardio after my weight training sessions. Anymore thoughts from anybody else? This Fat Fast is going to suck, but I’m mentally ready for it. It would be soooo cool if I could drop to about 10% bf.

I have used both Meltdown and 5x5 during the Fat Fast Diet. I started off with Meltdown thinking not a problem, but it became very hell like to perform with the carb restriction and energy demands. I was fatigued, got sick, and injured my lower back. Not all to blame on Meltdown alone, it was just combination of new things all at once. If you never did Fat Fast before (like me) it is pretty radical change in and of itself to your body. The 5x5 worked great for me. I got very strong and corrected some imbalances in my body as a result. I lost fat and gained muscle without killing myself. I am going to give Meltdown training another chance but am going to do a different diet approach. One thing I did learn through it is that I will never again start a new diet and new training program simultaneously. It becomes too difficult to assess when issues develop.

Coincidently I injured my back while on meltdown 1. I figured I just used to much weight on the Squats and Deads. It?s been two weeks and I still can?t squat and I have been seeing the chiropractor every other day.

Unfortunately, the arguments for both sides are pretty good. I tried both 5x5 and Meltdown I recently (went from 5x5 to Meltdown). My opinion is that Meltdown worked better for me (I’m about 14%bf). My theory is that dieting while causing microtrauma is counterproductive - healing is too tough when your low cal. Meltdown doesn’t cause significant microtrauma, and is mostly a energy suck.

Keep in mind that I’m not at the “really low” bf’s, so I can’t speak for that arena. If 5x5 didn’t cause so much damage, I would really like the theory better. I think the heavy concentrics are good for maintaining myosin, but the eccentrics wreck things up.

I’ve been doing two days of Fat Fast and Meltdown now and I must say that I am pretty damn sore. It’s that good pain that says you’re doing something. The Meltdown Training is just brutal! I actually puked after my day 1 workout. I’m using 4AD and ZMA to try and maintain my T levels so I maintain my current muscle mass.
As for the Fat Fast, it sucks! I don’t know how long I can do it for; although, I am going to try for the 30 days.

El Machinae,
Are you saying that 5x5 causes more microtrauma than Meltdown? What was you BF prior to the Meltdown training?

Be sure to read the discussion over at the Dog Pound about this; my latest response regarding the issue is there. If you have a ?, just post it here.


Lowering a heavy weight is what tends to cause microtrauma. With Meltdown’s 3 second concentric, you’re probably not using a heavy weight - especially since you’re doing 10 reps. I’d say the eccentric stress from Meltdown is negligible

A 5 rep set does not cause near as much muscular damage as a 40 rep giant set.


From reading this and the dog pound discussion. You seem to suggest the 5x5 (with diet/HIT cardio) over the meltdown for fat loss while keeping LBM and strength. Is this correct? (I was about to start Meltdown until I just read the discussion in dog pound). I am wanting to lose the BF(currently 20%) and keep the LBM that I have.

Have you ever tried applying Charles Staley’s EDT to your 5x5? What I mean is instead of using a weight that you can do for 12 reps, choose a weight, for EDT, that you can do for 5 reps. Also, do you use 5x5 for bulking or do you use something different?

I too was about to start and now I am totally confused.

But I am thinking that 5x5 and some interval training is going to suit me a lot better.

jhat: yes, that is the best choice for the various reasons that I mentioned.

Jaznick: No, and it wouldn't work well. You need to be fully recovered before your next set in order to get the training effect of the program. Also, I don't use 5x5 for bulking, I use hypertrophy programs that I design myself. Down the road I'll try other things, however.

TheBow- No need to be confused; your thinking is correct.

Joel, I’ve read your arguments and I followed your logic. I then tried RR&D. I found that I wasn’t able to handle heavy poundages while being on a restricted calorie diet. I did lose fat, but I got weaker and weaker too. I did RR&D for three weeks and then I tried Meltdown for three weeks. I dunno, I just got better results with Meltdown. I agree that it doesn’t cause any hypertrophy. In fact, I suspect that it operates under a similar mechanism to HIIT training (which it kinda is).

Now, I’m above 10% bf (around 12-14% now), I can’t really say which theory is correct. All I can really do is tell people to experiment and see what works for them. I’m of the opinion that working with heavy weights causes ME more microtrauma, and that microtrauma isn’t a good way for me to spend my deficit calories. Just trying to help.

Thanks for the feedback. There will always be some in which even the most logically thought out argument will not pertain to; this happens to be you. What I try to do is provide the reasoning that will work for most, and by the feedback, this seems to be the case. No doubt, Meltdown will work, but while dieting I think there are better options for the various reasons I described (for most people). Thanks again for the feedback.


I finished my first week of fat fast and meltdown. This F#$8*@ diet sucks. I haven’t actually measured but I would have to say that my bf is down between about 14% and 15%(started around 18%) in just one week. However, I have noticed the fatigue that Joel mentioned in previous threads even on 4AD-EC. I think that I managed to maintain my level of muscle strength that I had prior to, but I haven’t noticed any increase in strength as of yet. I initially intended on doing this for 4 weeks, but I’m not sure if I’ll do a third week after this upcoming week. I will probably switch to the 5x5 after this upcoming week.
Joel, I’ve been using 4AD-EC at one dose a day, started with 2 days of 2 doses for the frontload, but would you recommend for or against using 2 doses a day for 4 weeks?