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Goal: Get Lean
Bodyparts: All

Those who want to get lean, almost universally, are impatient folks. They don't want to get lean tomorrow, or see a shredded physique pro staring back at them from the mirror in a few months - they want it today. While proper dieting is crucial to this pursuit, it is worth noting that getting lean also requires a deeper understanding of metabolism.

"When it comes to body composition, metabolism is everything," says Taylor Simon, MSc, BA, CSCS, co-director of Taylored Fitness in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. "And this is directly mediated by your hormones. You want to ramp up the hormones in the body that will have the greatest impact on getting that coveted six-pack, namely growth hormone and testosterone. And you can do that by manipulating your training."

Is cardio critical to getting ripped? Absolutely. But you may want to stick to high-intensity intervals, which have been shown in numerous studies to help preserve muscle while boosting fat-burning. Traditional, steady-state cardio is about the worst thing you can do to boost metabolism.

"Long, slow cardio will negatively impact the anabolic hormones we are working to boost," says Simon. "So when the goal is a six pack, hours on the elliptical or long runs are the opposite of what you want to do. Yes, you need to burn calories but just as importantly you need to boost the anabolic hormones."

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We all love curls and cable crossovers but to give yourself the best chance of becoming a metabolic dynamo, you'll need to think "bigger."

"Big, full-body, compound exercises with big resistance help elevate GH and testosterone," says Simon. "Squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, and military presses are all staples in this department."

No surprise there, you may be thinking. But there's a key factor you need to be aware of. The key is fast concentric contractions! When you are moving the weight against gravity, do it quickly. Then keep a normal two or three-second speed for the lowering or eccentric phase. This is going to target the fast twitch fibers a little more, which are your big, strong, metabolic boosting units that make you stronger, leaner, and more powerful."

"I love using strength metabolic circuits to really ramp up the intensity," says Simon. "Take a big compound exercise, as listed above, and combine it with a metabolic exercise. My favorites? Tire flips, sledgehammers, sled drags, prowler sleds, and battle ropes. If you don't have access to these things you can use Olympic lifting style exercises to mimic the effect. High hang pulls and hang cleans are the best."

Try this:

Exercise Sets/Reps*
Barbell Squat
--superset with --
Jump Rope
30 sec.
--Rest 90 sec. between sets