By Joe Dowdell, CSCS Men's Fitness
We can’t overstate the awesomeness of German engineering. The land that brought us jet planes, the Mercedes, and Heidi Klum also introduced perhaps the best method of body recomposition known to the fitness industry—that is, a timeless strategy to gain muscle and lose body fat simultaneously. Achtung!
HOW IT WORKS
Hala Rambie, a scientist who defected to West Germany during the Cold War, found that fat loss could be accelerated by raising levels of blood lactate—an energy substrate. More lactate corresponds to greater release of growth hormone, which tells your body to grow muscle and burn flab. The best way to raise lactate quickly is to pair upperand lower-body exercises, or opposing movements, for repsin the 8–15 range. The sweet spot for sets is three, and rest periods are restricted to 30–60 seconds. This approach has since become known as German Body Comp.
Alternate sets of “A” and “B” exercises. So you’ll do a set of A, rest, then a set of B, rest again, and so on for all the prescribed sets. The remaining exercises are done as straight sets. To increase the intensity, decrease your rest between sets by 15 seconds every two weeks. Start by resting 60 seconds for the first two weeks. Then in Weeks 3 and 4, rest 45 seconds, and so on.
*TEMPO: Each exercise is assigned a tempo. The first digit stands for seconds you should take to lower the weight. The second digit is seconds you should pause in the bottom position. The third digit applies to the lifting portion of the exercise. The fourth digit is the length of the pause in the end position (A “0” indicates no time—simply move on to the next digit.) For example, a front squat with a tempo of 3110 would be done like so: Take three seconds to lower yourself into the squat. Pause for one second at the bottom. Take one second to come back up to standing, and then go right back into the descent.
THE WORKOUT [OPTION A]
Sets: 3 Reps: 8-10 TEMPO: 4010 Rest: 60 SEC.
Stand with your feet hip width. Bend your hips back to reach down and grasp the bar, hands just outside your knees. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, drive your heels into the floor and pull the bar up along your shins until you’re standing with hips fully extended and the bar is in front of your thighs.
1B. 1¼ NEUTRAL-GRIP DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS
Sets : 3 Reps: 8–10 Tempo: 3020 Rest : 60 sec.
Lie back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Turn your wrists so your palms face each other. Press the weights over your chest and then lower back down. Come back up one quarter of the way, and then down again. Now press up to lockout once more. That’s one rep. Take three seconds to lower the weights down from the lockout position, and two seconds when pressing to lockout.
2A. BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT
Sets: 3 Reps: 8–10 (each side) Tempo: 3110 Rest : 60 sec.
Stand lunge-length in front of a bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest the top of your left foot on the bench behind you. Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
2B. INVERTED ROW
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12 Tempo: 2011 Rest: 60 sec.
Set a barbell in a power rack (or use a Smith machine) at about hip height. Lie underneath it and grasp it with hands about shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar so your body forms a straight line. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull yourself up until your back is fully contracted.
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12 Tempo: 3110 Rest: 60 sec.
Suspend yourself over the bars of a dip station and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
3B. SEATED INCLINE DUMBBELL CURL
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12 Tempo: 4010 Rest: 60 sec.
Set an adjustable bench between 45 and 60 degrees and sit back against it with a dumbbell in each hand. Curl the weights to shoulder height without allowing your elbows to drift in front of your shoulders.
4. SWISS BALL ROLLOUT
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–15 Tempo: 2020 Rest: 60 sec.
Kneel on the floor and rest your forearms on a Swiss ball. Keeping your core braced, roll the ball forward so your arms are extended. Stop before your lower back begins to sag. Roll yourself back.
THE WORKOUT [OPTION B]
Use this routine just as you did the previous one—Body-Recomposition Option A. It’s another example of German Body Comp training and can be done in conjunction with Option A. If you choose to do the two workouts for a few weeks, alternate them for three sessions per week, resting a day between workouts (and then two days afterward before repeating).
1A. FRONT SQUAT
Set a barbell on a power rack at about shoulder height. Grasp the bar with hands at shoulder width and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Take the bar out of the rack and let it rest on your fingertips—as long as your elbows stay up, you’ll be able to balance the bar. Step back and set your feet at shoulder width with toes turned out slightly. Squat as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.
1B. NEUTRAL-GRIP CHINUP
Sets: 3 Reps: 8–10 Tempo: 4010 Rest: 60 sec.
Use a chinup bar that has handles so you can grasp it your palms facing each other (if you have only a straight bar, hook a V-grip cable handle over it, or use a suspension trainer as shown ). Hang from the handles and then pull yourself up until your chin is over them.
2A. ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
Sets : 3 Reps: 8–10 Tempo: 3110 Rest : 60 sec.
Hold a barbell with a shoulder-width grip and stand with feet hip width. Bend your hips back as far as you can. Allow your knees to bend as needed while you lower the bar along your shins until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your lower back arched throughout.
2B. INCLINE NEUTRAL-GRIP BENCH PRESS
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12 Tempo: 3110 Rest: 60 sec.
Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle and lie back on it with a dumbbell in each hand. Turn your wrists so your palms face each other. Press the weights straight over your chest.
3A. SEATED ZOTTMAN CURL
Sets: 3 Rep: 10–12 Tempo: 3020 Rest: 60 sec.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit down on a bench with a back rest, or raise the back of an adjustable bench to vertical. Curl the weights up and then rotate your wrists so your palms face the floor. Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.
3B. DECLINE EZ-BAR TRICEPS EXTENSION
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12 Tempo: 4010 Rest : 60 sec.
Set an adjustable bench to a slight decline and lie back against it holding an EZ-curl bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Press the bar overhead and then let your upper arms drift back so they’re at an angle to your torso. Bend your elbows so you lower the bar behind your head. Keeping your upper arms stationary, extend your elbows to lock the bar out.
4. HALF-KNEELING CABLE CHOP
Sets: 3 Reps: 8–10 (each side) Tempo: 3010 Rest: 60 sec.
Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station. Get into a lunge position, resting your left knee on the floor. Pull the cable diagonally downward to your left side.