Shortcut to Shred Program Overview

Shortcut to Shred Program Overview
Start dropping body fat immediately with the training regimen that's already transformed thousands of physiques.

Updated May 24, 2018

There are very few men and women out there who don’t want to be leaner. All of us wish we could possess impressive muscularity and a ripped set of abs. Yet unfortunately, many find that more difficult to achieve than expected.

While diet and supplements are critical for getting lean (and I’ve laid it all out for you in the Shortcut to Shred nutrition section), training is a very critical component. When it comes to training, the truth of the matter is that both weight training and cardio are necessary for dropping the most body fat in the shortest time possible. Yet in today’s fast-paced world, many people don’t have time to tack a long cardio session onto to the end of their lifting routine. Luckily, there's cardioacceleration!

Accelerated Fat Loss

If you aren’t familiar with cardioacceleration, I’ll bring you up to speed. It’s a form of cardio that’s changing the way everyone thinks about training. It combines weight training and weight lifting into one workout. Simply put, you do a set of weights (for example, the bench press) and then immediately follow it with one minute of cardio. Then, you immediately do another set of weights and hit another minute of cardio. You go in this manner for the whole workout, and in an hour or less you’ve lifted and done your cardio and can call it a day.

In addition to allowing you to get in and out of the gym faster, the benefits of doing cardioacceleration – both in terms of fat loss and muscle building – are even better than doing your weight lifting and cardio separately. There are a number of reasons for this. One study from the University of California-Santa Cruz found that when they had subjects do one minute of cardioacceleration between sets, the subjects experienced better muscle recovery. This is likely due to greater blood flow to the muscles, as you’re keeping your heart rate up throughout the entire workout. Increased blood flow means more nutrients and anabolic hormones are being delivered to the muscles. It can also increase muscle pump, which can lead to greater muscle growth due to the stretch it places on the cells.

Where enhanced fat loss via cardioacceleration is concerned, the most obvious reason is that you burn more calories by going back and forth between cardio and weights than by standing around after every lifting set. Another reason is that, because you’re only doing one minute of cardio at a clip, you can go more intensely than you’d be able to if you did 20-30 minutes of straight cardio. This higher intensity burns more calories during the workout as well as more calories (especially from body fat) long after the workout is over. In fact, this “afterburn” could go on for over 24 hours following the training session.

Many who are new to cardioacceleration are confused over whether it's better than HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or not. But what few realize is that cardioacceleration is HIIT. Instead of the typical HIIT, where you alternate between intervals of high-intensity exercise and rest or low-intensity exercise, with cardioacceleration you do intervals of high-intensity cardio-based exercise with intervals of a different type of high-intensity exercise, weight training.

When I say cardio-based exercise, don't assume I'm only talking about typical activities like running on a treadmill or doing the stair-stepper. Sure, you can do those exercises if you want, but you don't have to. There are countless exercises you can do for that one minute – from something as simple as running in place to a more complex exercise like kettlebell snatches. The key is doing exercises that use either the lower body (such as most cardio machines, running stairs or bench step-ups) or ones where the lower and upper body work together (like jumping rope, jumping jacks, dumbbell power cleans, kettlebell clean and jerks, kettlebell swings, hitting a heavy bag or even shadow boxing). Find an exercise that you can do fairly intensely for one full minute, or at the very least working up to one full minute over time.

Periodized Results

While cardioacceleration is one key to the success of this program, the weight training is also a critical component. The right get-lean lifting plan will not only enhance your fat loss but will allow you to get shredded while building strength and muscle as well. The Shortcut to Shred program does just that. After all, you don't want to sacrifice your hard-earned strength and muscle, right?

The Shortcut To Shred weight-training program utilizes the most tried and true technique around: periodization. Periodization involves the systematic changing of the weight and rep ranges used. Research consistently shows that this technique is one of the best for increasing muscle strength and size.

Here, periodization is used in a microcycle fashion. That means that each week the weight and rep ranges change, whereas traditional periodization changes up the weight and rep ranges every month or so. The problem with the traditional model is that when you’re using very heavy weight for very few reps for a month or longer (which helps to maximize muscle strength), you can lose muscle mass and endurance in the process. Then, when you’re training with lighter weight and higher reps for a month or longer to stimulate muscle growth, you can lose muscle strength.

By sticking with a specific rep range for just a week, you reap the benefits that training in that rep range provides, but you don't lose the benefits you gain with the other rep ranges. This allows the program to optimize gains in muscle strength, muscle size, muscle endurance and fat loss simultaneously. And if you’re familiar with my Shortcut to Size program, you know just how well it works!

Shortcut to Shred uses two different forms of periodization simultaneously for maximal results. One is linear periodization, which involves increasing the weight used while decreasing rep counts each week. The other form is called reverse linear periodization, which as the name implies involves decreasing the weight and increasing the reps each week.

And how exactly can you follow two forms of periodization simultaneously that contradict one another? Because each week you’ll be training each muscle group twice.

The program splits each muscle group into two different workouts each week. The first half of the week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) you’ll train using mainly multijoint exercises. For example, for chest you’ll only do presses using both a barbell and dumbbells. During the second half of the week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), when you train each muscle group for the second time, you’ll mainly use single-joint (isolation) exercises. For example, on chest you’ll do only flye exercises like dumbbell flyes and cable crossovers.

The multijoint-focused workouts in the first half of the week follow the linear periodized scheme and get heavier each week, while the single-joint-focused workouts in the second half of the week follow the reverse linear scheme. There are a few exceptions here for obvious reasons. For starters, there aren't any real useful multijoint exercises for biceps. So in the first biceps workout each week you’ll use barbell exercises, like barbell curls and barbell preacher curls, while the second half of the week you’ll use dumbbell and cable exercises. 

Another issue is that there aren't many single-joint exercises for back, except the straight-arm pulldown and other similar movements. So the first time you train back each week you’ll use rowing exercises, such as the barbell bent-over rows and seated cable rows. Then, the second time you train back that week you’ll use only pulldown exercises, including the single-joint straight-arm pulldown. The other similar exceptions are abs, calves and forearms.

Both types of periodization in Shortcut to Shred enhance fat burning due to the exercise selection and rep ranges – just by slightly different means. The multijoint exercises increase the amount of calories you burn during the workout (beyond that stimulated by the cardioacceleration), as do the high-rep workouts. The heavy weight and low rep workouts, on the other hand, help to boost calorie and fat burning after the workout is over, which further enhances that provided by the cardioacceleration.

Shredding Phases

There are two three-week phases in this six-week program. In Phase 1, Week 1, you start with reps in the 9-11 range for the multijoint-focused training in the first half of the week. For single-joint-focused work in the second half of the week, you do reps in the 12-15 rep range. In week 2 for the multijoint-focused training in the first half of the week, the weight increases to drop the rep range down to 6-8 reps per set. In the second-half of the week, the weight is reduced to allow reps to increase to 16-20 per set. Then, in the third and final week of Phase 1, weight increases again to drop reps down to just 2-5 per set on the multijoint-focused workouts. In the second half of the week (single-joint-focused workouts), weight decreases again and reps go up to 21-30 per set.

In Phase 2 the cycle repeats. So in the first week (week 4 of the program), the weight is reduced to allow the reps to go back to 9-11 per set in the first half of the week, and then the weight increases in the second half of the week to bring the reps back down to 12-15 per set. And so on, following the same rep schemes as in Phase 1. However, the major difference in Phase 2 is that the majority of exercises are different except for a few of the staple exercises that are key for strength. Changing up the exercises allows you to target slightly different muscle fibers for the best overall gains in muscle size.

While periodized microcyles work well to boost muscle strength and hypertrophy, and cardioacceleration will turn these workouts into brutal sessions that burn tons of body fat, I can’t leave well enough alone without throwing out all the stops. Thus, I added an intensity technique that I call “cardioaccelerated rest-pause/drop sets.” Yes, it’s as unforgiving as it sounds. 

If you followed Shortcut to Size, you’re familiar with both rest-pause and drops sets. In microcyles 1 and 2, you did rest-pause on the last set of each exercise. To do this you took the last set of each exercise to muscle failure and then racked the weight and rested about 15 seconds, then picked the weight back up and continued doing reps of that exercise until you reached failure again. Drop sets were done in microcycles 3 and 4 by taking the last set of an exercise to muscle failure and then immediately stripping off about 20%-30% of the weight and repping out to failure again on the same exercise.

Cardioaccelerated rest-pause/drop sets combine both of these practices, not to mention cardioacceleration. On the last set of each exercise, you’ll take that set to muscle failure. Then you’ll rack the weight and “rest” 15-20 seconds. I say “rest” because you won’t really being resting. You’ll do cardioacceleration by running in place for those 15-20 seconds. Then you’ll you pick up the weight again and continue doing reps for that exercise until you reach muscle failure. But you’re not done yet. You immediately decrease the weight by 20%-30% and continue doing reps of that exercise until you reach muscle failure yet again. Now you’re finally done with that exercise and can move on to the next one.

For bodyweight exercises, or exercises where the weight is so light that you can’t readily do a drop set, you’ll do two cardioacclerated rest-pauses. So after reaching muscle failure on the last set of an exercise, you’ll immediately go into 15-20 seconds or running in place before continuing to do reps of that exercise until you reach muscle failure again. Repeat one more time (run in place 15-20 seconds, rep out to failure) and you’re finally done with that exercise.

Sound overwhelming to you? Trust me, you can do it. And you’ll be more shredded than ever because of it!

To see all the workouts and get started, click here:

Shortcut to Shred Phase 1 Training Program

Shortcut to Shred Phase 2 Training Program


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