14 Day Challenge – Day Four

Welcome to Day Four!

Yesterday we spoke about how trying to drive fat loss from the exercise (or the calories out) side of the energy balance equation is nearly always fruitless.

That’s why this program just contains simple resistance training exercises. You won’t be gassed. It won’t be that difficult to breathe. You won’t be “dead”.

Resistance training still burns calories, but not as many as other forms of exercise that will have you working harder. That’s fine though.

The best plan is the one you can stick to, and I don’t think it’s likely you’re going to stick to a torture routine for more than a couple of weeks.

With smart nutritional choices and the education I’m going to give you, you’ll still be able to lose fat pretty easily!

Where resistance training is more valuable than other types of training (the types that people think are “good for fat loss”) is that it builds muscle.

The more muscle you have, the easier it will be to lose fat.

That’s because muscle is calorically expensive tissue, compared to fat.

All body mass requires energy to maintain it. That’s why your TDEE will be higher, the heavier you are. The more of that weight is muscle vs. fat, the more energy you will need to maintain it.

When you build muscle, you increase your BMR (basal metabolic rate). The more muscle you have, the more energy you require to maintain your weight. Your TDEE has gone up! You can eat more food and still be in a calorie deficit!


You DO want to build muscle. Even if right now you think you don’t. You won’t get “too bulky”. The women who have the kind of “toned” bodies you might want, have all built muscle.

  • You won’t wake up one morning and suddenly be “bulky”.
  • Women have much lower levels of testosterone than men, which makes it VERY hard to build a lot of muscle.
  • You have to eat A LOT of food to build large amounts of muscle – and you’re likely not doing that.

You Can Store Energy in Muscles Instead of Adding Bodyfat

Muscle also increases the amount of glycogen you can store. Glycogen is basically just glucose stored in your muscles. Your body creates it from the carbohydrates you eat. Our body does this so our muscles have an easily accessible store of energy.

You might be noticing that your weight has been dropping very quickly in this first week. That’s because when your body has to find energy from somewhere other than food, it will tap into glycogen stores. Each gram of glycogen is bound to about 3 or 4 grams of water. As you use this glycogen, your body drops stored water. This all weighs something, so in the first couple of weeks you might see some rapid scale weight change as your body lets go of stored water.

Most people never use their stored energy. Their glycogen stores are always full. When you’re resistance training and spending time in a calorie deficit, you will use this energy. That means that some of the glucose in your blood after you eat can go into your muscles to replenish your glycogen stores instead of being stored as fat. This is another reason why resistance training helps you to stay lean!

You can’t store fat in a calorie deficit, but if you have a day of eating a lot of calories (cheat day, perhaps) you can get away with a bit more than other people if you’ve been working out and in a calorie deficit, as you’ll have some space to store some carbohydrates as glycogen.

Muscle Adds Years to Your Life, and Life to Your Years

Various studies, such as this one, have determined that muscular strength correlates with longer life.

How do you get stronger muscles? You train them against resistance.

Good thing that’s exactly what you’re doing!

You will also lose muscle mass every year once you enter your 30s and 40s. The more muscle you lose, the lower your basal metabolic rate will become, and the easier it will be to gain fat.

After decades of muscle loss, you’ll be weak, frail and have a seriously diminished quality of life as a result.

Training to develop your muscle mass means you have a greater amount of it to try and hang on to as you age, and when you use it, you will be less likely to use it.

Do you want to be able to still explore the world and keep up with your grandkids when you’re in your 70s and 80s? Then you should do resistance training.

Cardio Does Not Prevent Against Muscle Mass Loss

Doing cardio does not prevent against muscle mass loss like lifting does, and may accelerate it.

This is reason enough on it’s own to take part in some sort of resistance training as your physical activity.

Muscle Makes You Look Amazing

Muscle will transform the shape and appearance of your body. Cardio will not do that.

When you lose weight with cardio, you will lose fat AND muscle, and just become a smaller version of your current shape.

With lifting in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose FAT not “weight” and you may even gain muscle at the same time. You might not see the scale change that much. It may stay the same or bounce around a certain range while your reflection in the mirror transforms right in front of your eyes.

It’s not uncommon to see transformation photos where people look hugely different from their before photo to their after photo, but are the same weight in both.

That’s because you CAN build muscle as you lose fat. Muscle is dense, not wobbly, goes in all the right places and makes you look more attractive. Fat is the opposite.

While you’re new to resistance training, you will adapt quite quickly and may be able to progress your weights quickly in the gym. This is known as the “newbie gains” period, and it’s one of the easiest opportunities you’ll ever get to gain muscle as you lose fat.

More on how to make sure that happens in the next couple of emails!

Today’s Actions:

1. Take your “before” photo now if you haven’t done so already.

Don’t share it unless you want to. It’s main purpose is as a marker for you to compare future photos against.

2. Stop Weighing Yourself.

I don’t want you to weigh yourself during this process. Take your scales out of your bathroom. They don’t measure fat. They measure weight. That includes fat, muscle, water, food, faeces, urine etc. etc. A myriad of things can influence it, so getting upset when it goes up from one day to the next is silly.

Scales are good for seeing trends over time. Even as you lose weight, it doesn’t go down linearly. It bounces up and down constantly, but generally trends down. The two weeks of this challenge might not be long enough to see a trend.

Also, if your scale has a bodyfat scanner or some way of reading your bodyfat, COMPLETELY ignore it. That is about as accurate as a drunk playing darts blindfolded.

From now on, take a photo once a week. You might not see changes week to week, but over time you will if you’re doing everything right. Make this a part of your routine instead of weighing yourself too often.

You can still weigh yourself, but I’d ask you to leave it until the end of the 14 days. Just remember, the scale measures a lot of different things that make up weight, and muscle is one of those things. It’s quite possible your weight could be the same, or heavier, but you LOOK better!


Perform Workout B

If you’ve already done Workout A and you had a rest day yesterday, you should perform workout B today.

If you performed Workout A yesterday, then today is a rest day and Workout B should be done tomorrow.

Here’s the workout:

All exercises should be performed for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Dumbbell Split Squat

The dumbbell split squat is a killer movement that will work your quads, hamstrings, glutes and also forearms.

To do them, find a bench. Set it flat. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your back to the bench, so that you can raise one foot and place it on the bench behind you. You can also use a box or a sofa if you’re at home.

Squat down by bending the front leg. Be sure to keep a nice central alignment of your knee. Don’t let your knee go to either side as you move.

Work both legs for equal reps.

Barbell Bent Over Row

The Barbell Row is a great movement for working your back. It will also work your biceps and your core.

To do one, find a barbell. You can use a 7 foot Olympic barbell, like I am using in the video. These weigh 20 kilograms or 45 pounds when used without any additional weights. You could also start with a lighter one if your gym has them. Sometimes there are smaller barbells with fixed rubber plates on each end that you can’t take off.

Hold one hanging in front of you as you stand straight, so it is resting against your body. Then bend until your torso is at about a 45 degree angle. Keep your spine neutral, don’t let your back round.

“Row” the barbell by pulling it towards your body. You want to aim for it to touch your stomach. Keep your elbows tucked in. If you can feel this in your lats you are doing it right, although you might not be able to feel that yet as a beginner.

Reverse Lunge

Note, you can also do these holding dumbbells.

The barbell reverse lunge is a fantastic exercise for your glutes and hamstrings, and it also works your quads and core.

Get a bar on your back. If it’s heavy enough, you’ll need to use a rack or squat stands. When you pull your shoulder blades together it will create a ridge or “shelf” where the bar can sit on top of your traps. It should not be on your neck.

Walk back from the rack to give yourself some room. Take a deep breath and take a big step backwards with one foot and lower the knee of the back leg towards the ground. Aim to stop an inch or so above the ground and stand back up by applying force through your front leg.

Work both legs evenly.

Lat Pulldown

To perform the lat pulldown, your gym will need to have a lat pulldown machine or cable station (most do).

Sit on the seat at the lat pulldown machine.

Make sure the seat is adjusted so the pads are against your legs comfortably. These are there to stop the weight from pulling you up out of the seat.

Try to get a slight arch in your back (not a rounded back, a slight arch the other way). Pull your shoulder blades back and get your chest right up. Sit up straight and pull your elbows back behind your body. That engages your lats and retracts your shoulder blades.

Reach up and grab the bar. Put your thumbs over the bar alongside your fingers, not around the bar how you might naturally grip it. This will really help you to target the correct muscles.

Pull the bar down to your upper chest. Don’t use any momentum or any of your own bodyweight to move the weight. Imagine squeezing some oranges in your armpits.

Control the weight at all times.

This is one exercise where I can really recommend using less weight to actually feel the right muscles working. This is the one exercise that is probably done badly by the most people, because they’re using too much weight.

Incline Bench Press

Note: This video is actually showing me doing a flat dumbbell bench press. The incline bench press is exactly the same, except you adjust the angle of the bench so that it is between 30 and 45 degrees. That’s usually the 3rd or 4th notch on the bench when you adjust it.

You can also use barbells for this, and they usually have dedicated barbell bench press stations, or you can do them in a power rack.

First, get a bench and adjust it to the correct angle (between 30 and 45 degrees – a shallower angle is easier and will target the chest more and shoulders less).

Sit on the bench and position the dumbbells on your knees. Kick them up into position as you lay back on the bench. The dumbbells should be above your shoulders.

From here, push the dumbbells up so that your arms are completely straight and vertical.

Slowly lower the dumbbells back down under control, keeping your forearms vertical, until they are just above your chest/shoulders. Push them back up.

Repeat for the specified number of reps.

That’s it for today!

Remember to keep an eye on the Discord Server for more tips, and post in there if you have any questions, feedback or concerns!