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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!
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 upper- and lower-body exercises, or opposing movements, for reps in the 8–15 range. The sweet spot for sets is three, and rest periods are 30–60 seconds. This approach has since become known as German Body Comp. The workouts that follow are just two of the routines that appear in The 101 Best Workouts of All Time, the new book by M&F’s training director, Sean Hyson, which offers routines for every piece of equipment and any amount of training time. Pick it up at 101bestworkouts.com.
Perform the exercise pairs (marked “A” and “B”) as alternating sets. So you’ll do a set of A, rest, then a set of B, rest again, and continue for all the prescribed sets. The remaining exercises are straight sets.
Each exercise is assigned a tempo. The first digit is the number of seconds you take to lower the weight. The second digit is the number of seconds you should pause in that bottom position. The third digit applies to the lifting portion of the exercise, and the fourth is the length of the pause in that 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 stand up, then go back down.
To increase intensity, decrease rest between sets by 15 seconds for every two weeks you repeat the workout. Start by resting 60 seconds for the first two weeks. Then in Weeks 3 and 4, rest 45 seconds. If you train for six weeks, drop rest time to 30 seconds.
Alternate Workouts One and Two for three sessions per week, resting a day between each session. So in your first week on the program, you’ll do Workout One twice, and in the second week, you’ll do Workout Two twice, and then repeat the cycle.
Click through below for the moves: