the fitness journal
A phase approach to training
If your goal is improving aesthetics, then you need to look at training through phases. All your gym heros will do it (they may not show it however) and you should too.
I don’t always train for aesthetics, I have been known to spend the majority of my time training for specific strength goals and also recently specific endurance goals. But in order to achieve the best possible plan periodisation is crucial. Periodisation is the long game, it is the plans in place to achieve results and the individual phases you are going to need to put in to get the end result.
What does training through phases mean?
In order to achieve the end result of looking big and lean you will most likely have to work through several different training phases to get there.
The phases will be determined by your starting position and what you want the end result to be.
Let’s take a look at an example journey through images – you might see the before and after. But people often don’t show the middle image.
This journey for me was split into two distinctive phases.
Phase 1 was the building muscle phase = Calorie surplus, i.e. eat more calories than you burn.
Phase 2 was the fat loss phase = Calorie surplus i.e. eat fewer calories than you burn.
To deliver these kinds of results in this time frame I had to go at both phases hard.
I knew to look good I would have to be lean at 80kg ( based on my experience of my results I look best around this weight)
I was starting at 78kg so I gained 8kg in the muscle building phase, you will notice that some of this is fat. Which took me to 86kg.
I fortunately don’t feel the need to be shredded all the time, I know how the process works and I am happy to add some fat for periods to get the best out of my results.
You will see by no means was I obese but for me this would be the highest level of fat I am comfortable to push to.
A lot of people want to keep super lean all year round. Whilst it is possible to stay lean you will struggle to get the same kind of impact on selected dates due to not maintaining so much muscle and not being able to push the lean out for as long.
My muscle adding phase ended when I booked my shoot for the website. I had 8 weeks to lean out and I would need every minute of it!
I cut calories hard and upped my cardio levels for the full time. I was up to 90mins of LISS most days for the last 2 weeks as well as my 4 weights sessions per week.
I dropped 8kg during the lean out phase (plus a couple more KG overnight for the shoot). I came in at 78kg so I was fairly close to my aim of 80kg to look good.
This demonstrates how I used two phases to change my physique, but how does this help you? Ultimately, we are all different and have different starting points, this means our phase length and number of phases to achieve something similar will differ.
Without knowing your exact start position and your end goal it is difficult to plot out your journey.
First up though I would say in my experience with over the past 11 years and having worked with several thousand people that most people will look better leaner.
When people say they want to add muscle often what they mean is they want to see more muscle and “Dropping 10lb of fat is the easiest way to look like you’ve gained 10lb of muscle”.
If this is you then goal one should be to drop body fat. The lenght of this fat loss phase will vary depending on how much fat you have and also how much muscle you have.
If you have a lot of muscle and fat then you can stay in the phase for as long as it takes to get lean.
If you have a lot of fat and not much muscle you want to do a long lean out phase followed by a lean muscle phase followed by another lean out phase. The middle lean muscle phase help improve body compositon and metabolsim before going into the second lean out phase.
If you have a lot of muscle and a little bit of fat you can just lean out for a phase then move onto a lean muscle plan to top the muscle back up and contiue this type of routine.
If you genuianly do need to add some muscle mass to look better then your phasing might be different you may be better off starting with a muscle building phase.
Ultimatly though once you get into a position of being fairly lean with some muscle you will just run through the two phases one after the other to hit target dates and then work through maintenance phases when you are not looking to acheive anything specifically.
Training will also vary in each phase, your time spent in a calorie surplus is also a good time to work on the strength specifically. This added strength will be incredibly useful when you transition into an all out hypertrohpy section of training.
If you want to upload your image in the messages below I can help you determine what your first phase should be on your road to getting crazy aesthetic.
In order to plan your long game effectivly I would say seak the advice of a coach, having someone else make these desicion who has an outside perspective will always be useful. It is easy to not see your body for what it is and therfor not make the right decision.
If you want to take the thought process out of your fitness and just get quality results then sign up to my plan