The Shredding Workout

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The eternal myth and one of the most frequently asked workout-related questions we get: What is a shredding workout like?

Is there anyone who hasn’t yet heard about the so called “shredding workout”, which is based on small weights and high repetitions? You can see numberless folks in the gym who push series of 15-20 with small weights and short rest breaks. Then, they swallow a handful of amino acid tablets after workout and wait for their six-packs and veins to show up. Does it make sense? Does such a thing as a shredding workout really exist?

What can you achieve with this?

What happens during such a workout? Volume is increased (meaning that more work is done within the workout), and weights are smaller. Higher volume makes recovery harder between workouts – and, on top of that, it is worsened by the diet. The amount of calories used will actually be less than in the case of workouts with heavier weights (both during and after workout). And here comes the trick: one will experience a “burning” sensation in their muscles, and many think it has something to do with fat burning. Workouts with larger weights promote the body’s own testosterone and growth hormone production more, and these play crucial roles in both maintaining the muscle mass and getting rid of body fat.

On top of all this muscles will lose volume because of using smaller weights. Your body will not maintain muscle volume it would not actually use. It will adapt to the new situation. “Smaller weights? Okay then, smaller muscles will suffice for this. Why would I maintain bulks of unnecessary tissues that cost me a lot of energy?” Plus, smaller muscle mass will also slow down your metabolism, for two reasons. On one hand: the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism works. On the other hand: workouts with larger weights are better for boosting metabolism. (That’s the reason why we recommend everyone to develop their muscles first, and start shredding and dieting later – with the exception of extreme obesity.)

So, traditional “shredding workouts” may bring two results: they will make you lose your hard-earned muscle mass (and this process will be further amplified by the caloric deficit resulting from the diet), and the rate of your metabolism will drop too, compared to workouts done with larger weights.

What’s the solution?

OK then, but how should someone who wants to look leaner work out? The answer is simple. Do NOT change your ways! Not your workouts, that is. The diet, a fine-tuned nutrient intake, and an appropriately selected ratio of macronutrients will get help reach the goals you set. If you miss these, no matter how wonderful a cutting workout claims to be, it will not provide you with significant improvements in this area. The only thing might worth considering is making resting times shorter, but you should insist on working out with the heaviest possible weights. Live with it: similarly to growing, shredding does not take place during workout either. The main contribution of weight training is NOT the amount of calories used up DURING workout, but the rate of metabolism afterwards, the stimuli it gives to the muscles and, last but not least, the hormonal effects triggered by weight training.

Considering all these factors, now you might see that the so-called “traditional workouts” done with heavy weights are much more effective than the ones based on “shredding workout methods” (however, these should not be mistaken for the high-rep workouts you can read about on our website, too).

What about intensity-boosting techniques?

You may use them, but not on the expense of weights, and not each time. Just spice up some of your workouts every now and then, to confuse your muscles. Remember: dieting will impair your recovery capacity to some extent, and such workouts will considerably exhaust your body. Therefore, always make sure all conditions of recovery are fulfilled after a shredding workout.


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