Welcome back to my blog series on the 3 phases to a better physique, all about bringing the package together and getting lean.


This article is going to cover phase 3 – the phase I go through myself periodically to get in great shape. Now it’s important to note that the concepts discussed in this article are going to be a little more advanced than we’ve covered so far, so if you haven’t read them already or you’re a complete beginner, please go back and read the articles I released on Phases 1 & 2 (think of these as the ‘groundwork’ phases before you get to the main event).


Now, essentially what we’re going to do in this phase is lean you down to a low level of body fat to reveal the physique we’ve worked so hard to achieve in the last 2 phases (which realistically will be no shorter than 6 months to a year). This is going to be hard work, probably harder than anything you’ve done up to this point so read what I’m going to say carefully, and you’ll have an easier time achieving great results for that holiday, photoshoot, wedding or event or just generally swanning about like a shredded motherf*cker catchin’ bitches while bitches catchin’ feelings.


Yeah, I know I’m too white to pull that off. Moving on.


Getting Lean: Starting Point

Right, time to get serious. The starting point for phase 3, is exactly where you finished phase 2. That would make sense, y’know, chronologically speaking. We want to have our calories just as high as we had them at the back end of our ‘bulking phase’. The dieting in this phase wants to be long and slow (giggity), and it is absolutely paramount we don’t do anything to sacrifice the muscle mass we’ve worked so hard to accrue in the previous phases, while still getting incredibly lean.


I know what you’re thinking at this point – how on earth are we supposed to lose fat without lowering calories? And it’s a great question, mainly because the fitness industry has us believe that getting lean is all about dropping carbs and eating white fish and a solitary broccoli stem 8 times a day. But to think about getting lean this way is to completely miss one side of the equation.


Remember, we have the option of increasing calorie output as well as simply decreasing calorie input. And so, to create a small but very real calorie deficit, this is where I’d like you to start.


Now, before I go on here I feel it’s important to point out that we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket – so to speak. If we go for broke here, add in a bunch of cardio, make training really intense and max out our NEAT levels we have nowhere else to go from the exercise standpoint, and as soon as that stops working we have no choice but to start stripping food out to ensure continued progress.


A much better approach, and the approach we’re going to take, is to make small, incremental changes that will keep things slowly ticking away. It will also be our best chance of sustained fat loss with minimal damage to our existing muscle mass.


Adding The Layers

So the first and easiest change we can make to elicit some fat loss & start getting lean in the onset of this phase, is to simply make our weight training sessions more intense. I’m talking about working harder in each given set, pushing through failure and really f*cking yourself up. Adding in ‘intensifiers’ to your workouts, such as rest pause sets, cluster sets, drop sets, super/tri/giant sets. Shortening rest times (on your more ‘metabolic’ work, not on your heavy strength based work) will also help increase the energy out put in sessions. As you can see, these are just some of the options you can do within the weight training sessions you are already performing. No more of a time commitment needed in the outset, you just need to grow a pair of balls mate.


So this should be enough to see you through at least the first couple of weeks of this phase – you should drop a couple of lbs through sheer effort in the gym. Once your weight stalls on this, we add another variable into the mix. This is going to be another output based factor – the dreaded cardio.


Now, we’re not going to complicate things with the cardio at first. My recommendation is a daily 10-20 minute walk first thing in a morning (fasted or not fasted – it genuinely makes no difference). The benefits of this stretch beyond fat loss – you’re also exposing yourself to natural light upon waking and triggering the brain to wake the f*ck up and be more productive during the day. You’d be amazed how many people’s circadian rhythms are so shit it’s unbelievable. Getting lean isn’t the only benefit you’ll see during this phase.


Depending on your time, energy levels and progress (or lack thereof), it’s also an option to add structured cardio sessions into your training (either before or after your workouts, I’d recommend after). Ideally, you’d be doing some form of high intensity cardio such as HIIT training or strongman cardio (think sled pushes, weighted carries etc). However, for a lot of people (me included) this absolutely smashes your recovery. It leaves you struggling to recover from the workouts which means you can’t train as frequently, and if you can’t train you can’t burn energy – which means you stop burning fat and getting lean. Bad news. So if that’s you, stick to short 20 minute sessions of steady state cardio (treadmill, cross trainer etc) but put the effort in. You want to be blowing and sweating when you come off the machine. Put the work into your cardio no matter what form you choose.


The last output variable I want to mention is something I spoke about in Phase 1 of this series – and that’s NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). Now, studies have shown that 75% of our daily energy output comes from our metabolism, and just 5% of the energy output is achieved through exercise, and a whopping 15-20% of the energy output is achieved through NEAT. This is our general daily activities that aren’t related to exercise, but it’s the energy we expend just going about our normal lives.


The best way to increase this is to buy a step tracker (you can get ones for literally £10, not the most accurate but it still creates activity consciousness). Aim for around 10,000 steps a day as a minimum if you don’t already hit that. If you up your step count you’ll burn more energy over the course of a day and week and you should see the difference the next time you step on the scale or look in the mirror.


Looking At The Diet

Right, so I’m not going to cover the basics of nutrition as I’ve said the same thing over and over again so many times I think I’d rather use a beehive as a punching bag. Check out the previous articles if you’re struggling.


So, once you’ve maxed out the output side of the equation and your weight is no longer budging, we need to address the diet. At present you’re still eating a high amount of calories – but we need to strip some food away. Now, in order to preserve muscle, we have to be a little bit smarter about how and where we take food away. In my opinion, it’s really important we still perform well in the gym, so the food around the workout needs to stay. We still need a good quality pre workout meal, intra workout nutrition (such as EAA’s and liquid carbs), and a big carb up post workout meal. We keep those in. I’d recommend taking food away from the meals either side of that, most people aren’t mega hungry in the mornings so we can safely take some food out of the breakfast meal (don’t eliminate it though).


Again, we don’t want to go balls out on the diet and end up stuck with nowhere to go. So take food away sparingly, and take just enough away to elicit continued weight loss. Don’t get carried away and lose all your gainz, bro.



So that’s the ‘how’, but we need to know how we know it’s actually working.


Now, as I eluded to throughout this article, the scale is an important tool here. We need to know what our weight is doing to see if we are making progress. Weight will fluctuate on a daily basis, but on a week to week (or at the very least a month to month) basis, we should be seeing the numbers going down. Most people have a lot more fat than they think, for example when I’m in off season I know I’m a good 30lbs ‘overweight’, but I’m not saying I’m fat. I’m saying I have 30lbs of bodyfat that needs to come off in a diet.


You don’t necessarily need to lose that much, but it depends on how lean you want to be. Get to where you want to be with the tools I’ve laid out in this article.


Another method of tracking is keeping an eye on what you actually look like. The mirror is obviously the first port of call, but we can sometimes find it difficult to see ourselves changing. For that reason, I recommend you take ‘progress photos’ once per week. Take a front, side and back shot. You don’t need to pose, you just need to take standardised photos in minimal clothing so you can see what’s actually going on with your physique. Take a look at the testimonial section of this website to see some examples of my clients utilising this style of progress shot.


I hope this article was useful and you found something to take away from it. As I said at the beginning, this is a more advanced phase than the original 2 ‘groundwork’ phases, so make sure you’ve gone through those before attempting the tools described in this post.


Any questions or feedback you have on this article please leave a comment or message me to let me know.

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Happy training




PS – Enjoy this article? Check out this one I wrote on My 3 Biggest Muscle Building Mistakes?