Very fat to very lean… The training structure

Training is a very important aspect to dropping body fat and increasing leanness, however make no mistake, you can train like a beast but if you eat like a pig the former is a pointless process.


But let’s assume you don’t eat like a pig. You are now in control of your energy intake (calories) and really want the training side of things to work for you. Where do you start? What do you do?


This is a very common concern so don’t worry, you are not alone here. There is a ton of training options, but I want to give you my take on it and explain how I train my clients, with successful results!


I am going to make an example as although it is individual specific, you can identify where you are and what you need to do from my guide.


I have a client Trevor (I don’t really, he’s a fabricated character for the purpose of example) and he weighs 200lbs and is at 35% body fat. He wants to become exceptionally lean and be confident with his shirt off.


Remember, he’s now in control of his energy intake so we are only talking training.

I will break this down into stages so we both know what to expect.


  • Stage 1: Fuel burning


  • Stage 2: Strength and development


  • Stage 3: Peak (experienced trainers with specific requirements)


Stage 1: Fuel burning

The first thing we need to do is burn stored energy (fat) so I will take him through the stage I call fuel burning. This process is based around basic movements and cardio based training that will get the body mobilising fat i.e. burning fuel. It could look something like this:


1A. Goblet squat – 3 x 12

1B. DB bench press – 3 x 12


2A. 45 raise – 3 x 12

2B. DB incline row – 3 x 12


3A. Prowler push – 3 x 50m


4A. Interval training – 20/40 (work/rest) x 10-15minutes


Trevor will start building foundation strength and muscle development through the movements but at the same time this will be a high energy output session i.e. he will be expending a lot of calories. I might even have him do additional low intensity cardio to speed up the process.


Stage 2: Strength and development

 It’s at this stage we start to incorporate more strength and muscle development specific work. His body is now using his stored energy of fat, so we can switch the focus on priming his muscles. This will improve his ability to store energy (carbs) in his muscle cells instead of energy (fat) in his fat cells.


Note: Muscle cells store energy in the form of sugar (carbs) whereas fat cells store energy in the form of fat.


It could look something like this:


1A. Back squat – 5 x 5


2A. DB bench press – 3 x 8-10


3A. DB incline row – 3 x 8-10

3B. BB glute bridge – 3 x 8-10


4A. Bicep curls – 3 x 12 e/s


5A. High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) – 5-8 minutes


My preference at both stages 1 & 2 is full body training i.e. you hit each muscle group every time you train.


Stage 3: Peak

 By this stage Trevor has dropped a significant amount of bodyfat and is looking pretty good. The aim here is to develop and enhance. It’s at this stage where we can really get more specific. It could be we work on specific body parts that he wants to develop, or it could be we split his workouts into parts, as examples:


Upper/lower body splits

Anterior/posterior splits

Movements splits (knee dominant/push dominant/hip dominant/pull dominant)

Area specific training (whatever body part he is looking to enhance)


The options are endless, but the specificity becomes more apparent as Trevor progresses and is adjusted to his requirements.


For the majority, stages 1 & 2 are more than enough. Most of my clients achieve outstanding results without the need of stage 3. The latter stage is more for the experienced trainer, but this offers you an insight to how far you could potentially develop.


Please leave your comments and let me know what you thought of this article.