D et
Everything you need to
succesflly cut to shreds
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Table of content
Part 1
Why Successful People Don’t Just Make
Random Cuts To Their Calorie Intake
Part 2
Forget Your Calculations - Why We Need To
Track & Make Adjustments As We Diet
Part 3
Expect Fluctuations, Identify Stalls,
And Anticipate Whooshes
Part 4
How I Recommend You Track Your Progress
Part 5
How Quickly Should I Cut?
Part 6
The Role Of The Diet Break
Part 7
When & How To Make Adjustments
To Your Calorie Intake
Part 8
Full Examples Of How I Coached
The Clients You Voted On
Part 9
Coming Back Up To Maintenance
To Maximally Maintain Your Shreds
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This book is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease,
nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to
medical advice. Use of the guidelines herein is at the sole choice and
risk of the reader.
Copyright: © 2015 by Andrew Morgan. All rights reserved.
This book or any part thereof, may not be reproduced or recorded in
any form without permission, except for brief quotations embodied
in critical articles or reviews.
For information contact: andy@rippedbody.jp
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Why Successful
People Don’t Just
Make Random
Cuts To Their
Calorie Intake
One of the keys to successful dieting is to eat as much as possible while still progressing.
The typical ‘bro’ way of doing things is to cut out nearly all carbs and fatty foods immediately as
the diet commences, eating a daily menu such as white fish, spinach and rice crackers for lunch,
chicken breast, broccoli and rice crackers for dinner, for months on end, until shredded.
This can actually work fairly well if you’re pumped full of drugs that help to maintain your muscle
mass, and keep your hormones in check, but for the rest of us it’s really not a good idea.
Why is this not a good idea?
• If we slash calorie intake too much we risk losing muscle mass. - There are limits to how
much fat we can lose each day, and the leaner we get, the less we can lose. More on this in
part 5.
• You’ll have less energy for your workouts, and without sufficient training intensity your
ability to maintain your muscle mass will be hampered.
• You’ll run out of places to make cuts to your calorie intake to keep progressing.
• You’ll end up eating less than you could have meaning that your hormones will be affected
the most:
• your sex drive will tank,
• hunger pangs and irritability will be high,
• you’ll be so strung out by the time you reach your shredded condition (if you get there)
that you’ll be primed for a binge and horrible rebound.
Part 1 Why Successful People Don’t Just Make
JP Random Cuts To Their Calorie Intake
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Here’s a scenario that you’re probably familiar with- two friends having a bet with each other
about who can lose the most weight in a given period. Here’s how a conservative approach plays
out against an aggressive approach to dieting - the ‘bro’ way vs the smart way of doing things.
Diet Competition - Andy & Bob
Consider two friends whose maintenance calories are 2500 kcal per day. They decide to
go on a diet to see who can lose the most weight over the next 3 months.
Andy starts with a daily deficit of ~500 kcal. Bob doesn’t count, but he slashes his carb
and fat intake, and his deficit ends up being an aggressive one, ~1500 kcal.
The first week…
• Bob starts losing weight faster than Andy.
• Bob is happier than Andy and considers the hunger worth it because of how quickly
the results are coming.
• Andy is a little jealous of Bob’s progress, but doesn’t really feel hungry or deprived.
6 weeks later…
• Andy is feeling good, progress has been steady but slowed a little recently, still
doesn’t feel particularly deprived though, and gym sessions are going well - strength
is being maintained.
• Bob on the other hand is suffering. This is both physical and mental. The initial huge
water-weight dump set him up with inflated expectations of the fat losses that could
be achieved per week. In the second week losses were a lot less, but still ahead of
Andy so he could put up with the hunger. From then on the losses have slowed con-
siderably each week, strength is being lost in the gym, it’s getting really hard to keep
saying no to drinks with friends, and he’s lost interest in sex with his girlfriend.
After 6 weeks of dieting both Andy and Bob now need to decrease their macros to con-
tinue progressing.
• Bob has lost more weight than Andy, but Bob has really suffered for it.
• Andy is pretty relaxed about making a decrease and progresses onward.
• Bob is faced with eating even smaller meals, or adding cardio. Both are unappealing.
It’s just a matter of time before he cracks.
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It’s now the end of week 8…
Andy and Bob are camping away with friends for the weekend at a music festival. They’ve
had this planned for months. Everyone gets drunk on the Saturday night. With lowered
inhibitions they both stumble over to the kebab stand at midnight. Andy has a kebab
and stumbles off to the tent to call it a night. Bob, after weeks of heavy calorie restriction
just can’t help himself and goes wild - he eats four, runs out of cash, steals a hotdog and
wakes up in the car park surrounded by fast food wrappers. They both decide to declare
Sunday a total day off.
Monday morning Bob steps on the scales and finds he’s gained 8 lbs. He’s heartbroken,
and a text message from Andy saying that he gained (just) 4 lbs pushes him over the
edge. He quits the diet and concedes the challenge.
Though neither of them realise it, part of the weight gained back in both cases was wa-
ter weight - due to increased carb and salt intake - but Bob will have gained more fat
because he’s hormonally primed for fat gain after weeks of heavy calorie restriction. With the
challenge aborted, for Bob the fat gain continues over the next two weeks, despite not
eating any more than he would have prior to the challenge, and soon Bob finds himself
back to where he was 8 weeks ago.
A Smarter Way Of Doing Things
We want to make a macro/calorie intake reduction at every point that things stop progressing.
To do that we need a tracking system, and we need to know how to interpret that data so that
we can be as objective as possible when determining whether we need to make adjustments.
This is not as simple as looking at either scale weight changes or body measurement changes. I'll
go on to explain this in later sections.
For now, I need to get something more fundamental out of the way - to explain why adjust-
ments are necessary in the first place.
“Do these macros look right?” is the single most asked question I get the comments on the web-
site. I would guess I’ve been asked this over 2000 times, but it is fundamentally the wrong ques-
tion to be asking, “How are those macros working out for you?” is the one that needs to be an-
A calculation cannot predict a diet’s progress accurately. Initial calculations of calorie and macro
intake just provide a starting point from which to work. Here’s why…
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Forget Your
Calculations - Why
We Need To Track &
Make Adjustments
As We Diet
Let’s look at the reasons that our initial calculations won’t pan out to reality before then moving
onto what we can do about it.
1. Initial Calculations Are Just An
• The calculations that you made to come up with your energy needs when you set up your
diet were based on averages - average metabolic rate for someone of your stature and age,
or average for someone of your lean body mass. You could be either side of that range.
• If you used the Katch-McArdle formula to calculate your energy needs, though this is
potentially more accurate due to it being based on the amount of lean mass you carry, you
may have misestimated your body-fat percentage. In fact, due to the difficulty of accurately
assessing body-fat percentage, you probably did.(More on this later.)
• Your activity multiplier was an estimation.
→ Our initial calculations are likely to be off and will need to be adjusted based on how they work out
to reality.
FOR COACHES: You’ll get some people try to track their daily activity with a fitness tracker, like
a Fitbit wristband or the like. This can be a useful tool for showing us how lazy we are, and
illustrating how little energy we burn through walking around on an hourly basis, but I feel that
the usefulness of these devices stops there. They are generally horrible at estimating energy
expenditure, and even if they were accurate, what is the person supposed to do? Adjust their
meals each day in order to maintain their target caloric deficit? It’s just not realistic in the long
term, and trying to micro-manage a diet like this is unsustainable and a recipe for disaster.
Part 2 Forget Your Calculations - Why We
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2. Our Energy Needs Change As We Diet
The Lighter We Get the Fewer Calories We Burn
There are three reasons for this:
• The energy required to be you is less, so your base metabolic rate (BMR) drops.
• You’re eating less food, so the energy costs of digesting that food (known as TEF) is lower.
• And because you are lighter, any exercise you do (known as the thermic effect of exercise, or
TEE) burns fewer calories.
BMR , TEF , TEE 
→ Because of these changes a single calculation made initially will not continue to work in the vast
majority of cases.
FOR COACHES: If the duration of the diet is short, and/or the deficit was fairly aggressive
initially (whether accidentally or on purpose), then one single calculation may be enough in
a few cases to see people through to a shredded state.
NEAT Variance
This is all energy expenditure that is not related to planned activity, (known as non-exercise
activity thermogenesis, or NEAT). We all feel more lethargic on diets right? Fidgeting, moving
around, and our propensity to take stairs vs elevator etc., changes when we are in a caloric
The problem with NEAT is that there are vast inter-individual variances. Some people seem to
respond minimally in this regard, some a great deal.
→ No calculation can take into account these individual NEAT differences.
Metabolic Adaptation
This is the adaptive component of your BMR that is not predicted by weight loss. Basically it is
caused by hormonal changes that happen when your body senses a caloric deficit, and so starts
doing what it can to decrease your daily energy needs in an attempt to stop you from starving
to death. Modern dieting clearly isn’t a survival situation, but unfortunately our bodies can’t tell
the difference between prolonged caloric restriction and starvation, so it’s something we have to
deal with.
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The harder you diet, the more your metabolism adapts. In the research, the largest decrease
in BMR due to this adaptive component observed was in something called The Minnesota Semi-
Starvation study and was measured to be about 15%, once the change in total daily energy
expenditure due to weight loss was taken into account. That would be 200-400 kcal depending
on your body size - a significant amount that could mean the difference between extreme
hunger and modest hunger if we could minimise it.
→ It’s worth keeping away from excessively large calorie deficits so that we minimise the severity of the
metabolic adaptation and can eat more throughout our diets.
However, it’s important to note that this is what was observed during starvation conditions. Your
diet will be less extreme, even if you decide to take what would be considered to be an extreme/
stupid approach (500 kcal/day for example) in the modern day. Thus, if you feel that you have
an exceptionally low calorie intake and aren’t losing weight, barring legitimate medical issue, it’s
likely that you are simply miscounting you calorie intake, or have some water retention masking
the weight loss.
FOR COACHES: Miscounting far more common than water retention. It’s worth getting a client
that is completely new to dieting to put everything they put into their mouths into a calorie
tracker for a week, as this will teach them a lot and help to rule out severe undercounting.
As long as people aren’t wildly off of their targets I don’t think that miscounting has to be
an issue. The key thing is that people are consistent with the way they count. I’ve got a good
explanation of the system I use for counting here .
If a client is worried that they are ‘metabolically damaged,’ it’s likely that they have read
some nonsense online. Metabolic damage due to dieting too hard and long is something
of a modern myth . So read that and educate them, or pass on the link so they can read it
Summary Recommendations
Initial calculations of calorie and macro intake just provide a starting point from which to
We can’t predict spontaneous physical activity (NEAT) changes, or metabolic slow-down, and it’s
likely that our initial calculations of energy needs were a little off.
The only practical way to proceed then is to adjust our intake when we don’t progress as
planned. To do that of course, we require good tracking. ‘Good’ means tracking relevant data
points so that we can make decisions as objectively as we can.
Now the problem is that while fat loss happens linearly, the measurements we use to track
it, usually do not respond linearly. We’ll cover why this is next, as it forms the basis of my
recommendations on how we track things and it will stop you from panicking later on.
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Identify Stalls,
And Anticipate
Not realising that fluctuations in weight and measurements will happen, being unable to identify
stalls, and not knowing how to anticipate whooshes are the key reasons that people fail their
diets. Don’t let this be you.
Part 3 Expect Fluctuations, Identify Stalls,
JP And Anticipate Whooshes
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We know from the discussion in the previous section that the further we progress with our diets,
the slower the rate of progress we will get. This is represented by the curve in the yellow line.
Compare that to how most people think fat loss will/can happen for a moment by looking at the
green line. We can go faster at the start, slower at the end.
Unfortunately, though fat loss is fairly linear, the way it manifests itself is not. The scale weight
change is more likely to jump all over the place (the red line), which causes a lot of frustration.
This happens due to fluctuations in water weight, and unfortunately it is very difficult to
consistently and accurately track the differences between fat loss and water loss. However, we
can look for signs in our tracking data to distinguish between the two. To do this we need to
understand the reasons that these fluctuations in water weight happen.
1. Why The Initial Change In Weight Is
Probably Not Fat Loss
A change in carbohydrate intake will bring with it a change in water balance in the body.
This is because glycogen comes from the carbs we eat, and 1g of glycogen holds 3g of water and
is stored in the muscles, waiting to be used as energy. Our muscles are made up of ~70-80%
water. Some of the water comes under the skin, but most of it goes into the muscle.
If you eat fewer carbs than normal, which you probably will when you start dieting, your body
(the muscles mainly) will hold less water. The scale weight will plummet giving you the false
impression that you’ve lost fat. It is possible in this way to drop weight without being in a caloric
deficit. (This is what boxers and MMA fighters do to ‘make weight’ before a fight.)
→ It is prudent to ignore the first week’s weight change when looking to establish your average rate of
fat loss. Use data from the second week onwards.
2. Why The Sudden Weight Gain Is Probably
Not Fat
If you eat more carbs than normal, when you take a diet break for example, or go out, get
drunk and wake up surrounded by pizza boxes that you swear aren’t yours, your body will hold
more water giving you the impression that you’ve gained a lot of fat. This is just a temporary
fluctuation in water balance and will come down again when you resume your diet.
A sudden gain in weight is likely to be water gain, not fat gain. One pound of fat takes 3000-3500
kcal to burn or store. If your maintenance calorie intake is 2500 kcal, even if we assume that any
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excess over regular calorie maintenance is stored perfectly as body fat (it’s not), then that’s more
than 5200 kcal you’d have to consume on a single day to gain a pound of body fat. Possible, yes,
but not likely if you are eating sensibly, and even if you really eat a huge amount and wake up 5
lbs heavier, it’s almost certain that less than half of it will be fat.
The way to tell the difference between what is largely a water weight fluctuation due to an
increased carb intake and just fat gain, is that with the former the muscles will look a lot fuller
and the stomach measurements will change only a little, despite the disproportionate rise in
scale weight. (This is easiest to spot if we take body measurements on other sites than just the
stomach.) Plus, after a couple of days resuming your diet, your weight will whoosh downwards
again as it drops the water.
If you cycle carbohydrate intake, your weight (and appearance/level of definition) will fluctuate
from day to day across the week.
Furthermore, any change in salt intake can temporarily bring about a spike in water balance.
However, it’s very hard to track salt intake so I don’t recommend you even attempt it, but it’s a
good idea to remember this point when possibly looking for an explanation as to why you are
suddenly bloated one day.
→ It is best to weigh yourself each day and note down the average at the end of the week.
→ It’s best to track measurements all over the body, not just the stomach.
3. Why The Sudden Stall In Weight Loss Is
Probably Nothing To Worry About
Fat cells can fill up with water as they empty, masking fat losses.
This was first hypothesised by Lyle McDonald. This is especially annoying because the stomach
measurements won't change, and signs of progress are hidden. I’ve seen this many, many times
over the years with clients, and while I have seen it happen to people without reason, those
with poor sleep habits and/or a high amount of stress in their lives tend to experience this more
Remember - fat loss will not start or stop suddenly unless calorie balance has changed. The
reduction in total daily energy needs when dieting is a gradual thing (NEAT, BMR, TEF).
Metabolic adaptation is not a sudden switch. So, if you have been consistent with your diet,
and weight loss has been at ~1 lb a week for a while (for example) and the scale suddenly stops
moving, you have a good idea that there is some water retention going on.
The best thing to do in this case is to remain patient, and if sleep quality is poor, or stress
high, then work on improving those areas first. - We’ll come back to this in the client examples
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FOR COACHES: It’s not just about length of sleep, but quality of sleep. Does the client have a
good mattress, a good pillow? Is the room too hot or cold? Is the room dark? Make sure that
people get these basics sorted - they may sound obvious now but they aren’t always obvious
to the client.
→ It is a good idea to track qualitative measures of sleep quality and overall stress each week also.
4. Why A Sudden Whoosh In Weight Loss Is
Not Something To Worry About
It’ll be water. Either due to a sudden decrease in carbohydrate intake, salt intake, or is just a
whoosh of water that has been building up in the fat cells and waiting to come out.
→ It is best to look at the trends in measurement and weight data over multiple weeks, and ignore any
big fluctuations that can happen week to week.
Summary Recommendations
We need to track progress based on more then just the scale weight. It is best to take body
measurements, as well as track sleep and stress levels each week as the diet progresses, due to
their ability to affect water retention. It should be expected that there will be stalls in progress,
and we mustn’t panic when these things happen but embrace them as part of the process.
Hopefully you will have already read the next section on how to track your progress from the
site. I’m betting that it will make a lot more sense now. Here’s a heavily updated version
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How I Recommend
You Track Your
Here's what most people do that I suggest you don't...
• Don’t rely on the mirror. The lighting will fluctuate, and your condition will change depend-
ing on the salt and carb content of the foods you have eaten. Trying to track your progress
by checking yourself in the mirror is a recipe for disaster, as in the short term the mirror will
just screw with your head.
• Don’t try to track by measuring your body-fat percentage - there are accuracy and consist-
ently issues with all commercially available methods. (BIA, BodPod, underwater weighing,
callipers and DXA scan all have their issues.)
Here's how I suggest you track things...
1. Take 9 Points Of Measurement Once A Week
Consistency is key to accurate tracking. This means that measurements need to be taken at the
same time of the day, under the same circumstances. Do it yourself, as you are the only person
that will always be with you. The best time to measure is in the morning, after you wake, after
going to the toilet. Once a week is fine.
• Measure in nine places as per the illustration.
• Tense/flex your muscles for each measurement as this enables more consistent results.
Part 4 How I Recommend You Track Your
JP Progress
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• To help you take the measurements in the same place each time,
• Use the widest part of your legs,
• Measure at the nipple-line for the chest, being sure not to get the tape at an angle or twisted,
• Curl your biceps in a pose like Arnold to take your arms at the widest point,
• Two fingers above and below the navel is a good guideline instead of measuring 2 inches
each time.
• Consider getting yourself a Myotape/Orbitape (picture below) as it makes self-measuring more
consistent and easier.
• Take and note measurements to the nearest 0.1 cm.
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FOR COACHES: Accept nothing less than a 0.1 cm degree of accuracy, regardless of what
system they are used to. Not only is it exceptionally useful for noting small changes and
trends in the data, it sets the client up with a mindset on precision - that they need to take the
data seriously. Without the data, you are blind after all. I hammer this point home to clients
at the outset - no data, no assessment point. People sometimes screw this up, so it’s worth
checking that they have filled out the tracking sheet correctly in the first week so that there
can be no misunderstandings at the update point 2-4 weeks later where you have no data to
look at, incomplete data, or data to the nearest 1 cm (or even more annoyingly, nearest half
an inch).
2. Weigh Yourself Every Morning
Here is a quick summary of all things that can cause fluctuations in weight:
• Water & glycogen - due to an change in carb intake
• Water - the stall-whoosh effect.
• Water - due to hydration status.
• Water - due to a change in salt intake.
• Bowel content - some foods have a higher ‘gut residue’ (they stay in the gut for longer).
We want the conditions to be as consistent as possible when weighing ourselves, and the best
thing for this is to weigh last thing at night, or first thing in the morning. My preference is for the
morning -scale fluctuations can mess with people’s heads we don’t want sleep to be disturbed
because of them stressing about this.
→ Weigh yourself every morning upon waking, after the toilet (empty your bladder). Then at the end of
the week calculate the average and note it.
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You can expect to lose 1-2% bodyweight over night through the moisture lost when breathing,
so definitely do not weigh yourself in the morning one day, and then the evening the next.
Scale Weight Obsessors - If you’ve noticed that your client is completely obsessed with the
scale weight and won’t get it into their head that there will be fluctuations as they progress,
you probably want to limit them to weighing themselves once a week. - The stress from the
fluctuations can cause water retention and will only make them stress more.
Weighing once a week is not ideal by any means as it leaves you open to random fluctuations
in weight happening and screwing up your analysis. The downsides of this needs to be
weighed up with stress from daily weighing that happens with certain personality types.
Education on the causes of weight fluctuations is usually a cure in most cases, but not all.
Gut Residue - This point is worth bearing in mind for a client that needs to drop weight for
a weigh-in but is close to their target. You’ll get people dehydrating themselves in order to
make a weigh-in, but it’s rarely a good idea to play with this as it affects performance - and
when taken to the extreme people have died. Switching to foods that have a low gut residue
(generally less fibre, more liquids) can help the someone drop 1-2% bodyweight over the
course of a couple of weeks without the need for calorie restriction. Then when you add in
some mild carb restriction a week out to decrease glycogen and water balance, and possibly
a lowering of salt intake a few days before (if it’s being counted), you can get a 3-5% drop in
bodyweight fairly painlessly.
3. Take Photos Once Every Four Weeks
Take two photos, front and side. Use the same lighting conditions, camera, camera angle, time of
day, and pose.
I’ve experimented with weekly and fortnightly photos with clients and I’m convinced that every
four weeks is best, and taking them more often can be counter-productive as the changes are
often too small to be motivational.
FOR COACHES: If someone comes to you with an initial set of photos where they have their
stomach forcibly sticking out, ask them to retake them. Tell them to tense their abs from the
start - it’s important to be consistent. The goal with the photos is not to have the most striking
before-after shots, but to have a reliable visual gauge of progress.
4. Track Strength
Track your strength in the main compound lifts you perform. Some days you will feel stronger
than others, so note the best set for the week. The conditions must be the same for you to be
able to compare - rest times, form, etc.
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FOR COACHES: I like to get clients to note the best session for each main compound lift that
week, as it means I can look at all the data at a glance and I’m at less risk of missing anything.
Of course, feel free to track the entire workout routine if you like, or the total volume
performed for the week for a body part or exercise - when I coach clients through a bulk this
is something I have been doing this last year. Total ‘hard sets ‘ for an exercise or body part is
another option of tracking training volume.
5. Track Diet & Training Adherence
Rate your diet adherence as a percentage - If you get each macro target to within 10% either
side, consider that to be perfect adherence (100%). The total percentage I’d suggest you write is
the percentage of days you managed to achieve that. It’s also a good idea to list any instances
where you feel you went well over the calorie balance for the day - that could be a big drinking
session, wedding party, etc.. Note the date that you did this in your tracking spreadsheet
(because otherwise you’ll forget) as you can expect a rise in the numbers that week.
FOR COACHES: Some people are going to screw up their counting of things. Short of
requesting a complete list of the client’s meals and their ingredients, (which I think may be
overbearing, and possibly counterproductive because you get them stuck into a rigid meal
planning mindset from the start) there is no real way to check for this, you just have to be
aware of it. So, if someone isn’t losing weight as it seems they should for the macros you’ve
given them, miscounting may be a factor. More on what you can do about this later.
Rate your training adherence as a percentage. - This means the percentage of completed
workouts, not how well you thought you performed. Fluctuations in performance are normal
and to be expected.
6. Track Qualitative Factors
Rate your sleep quality, stress level, and hunger on a 1-5 scale, each week. As you look back
across your tracking data to see how you are progressing, if weight and measurements aren’t
changing according to plan, check to see how your sleep or stress levels were for these weeks.
- If they are high, then it is likely to be water retention rather than a lack of a caloric deficit to
blame. This is especially true if you have been finding yourself hungry at the same time. (Just
note, hunger doesn’t always means you’re in a caloric deficit, but it can be a good gauge that you
are if other things point in that direction.)
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How Quickly
Should I Cut?
Very generally speaking, the body fuels itself in the ratio that it has fuels available. Unfortunately,
the amino acids that comprise our muscle tissue are one of these fuels, so a caloric deficit puts
our hard-earned muscle mass at risk. However, by doing resistance training we send a signal to
our bodies to hang onto the muscle tissue instead of breaking it down, and by keeping protein
intake high we give our bodies the ability to do so.
The problem is this - leaner we get, the less body fat is available as a fuel source, and the more
likely the body is to break down muscle into amino acids for fuel. And if our energy deficit for the
day is beyond the body’s capability to fuel itself from fat stores, we will lose muscle mass.
I guess this is just a long winded way of saying that:
→ Fatter people can lose fat quicker than leaner people, and,
→ We should taper our fat-loss rate as we get leaner.
Now, it is possible to calculate the theoretical limits to fat loss as they relate to body-fat
percentage, however I don’t think this is a very good idea to base recommendations for weight
loss off of because even though we can lose fat at a faster rate, doesn’t mean that we
There are four principle reasons for this:
1. Smaller Deficits Open Up The Possibility Of Muscle Gain
It is possible (even for advanced trainees) to gain muscle while in a caloric deficit. This has
been shown in the research, anecdotally, researcher Brad Schoenfeld has said that he’s seen it
Part 5 How Quickly Should I Cut?
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countless times during the course of his work, and I’ve noticed it in clients myself.
Our ability to do this,
• Decreases as we advance with our training,
• Decreases as we get leaner,
• Decreases with higher caloric deficits.
For completeness, I should note that this is also related to the skill of the program designer, and
related to the quality of your gym environment. But these things can’t outweigh those first three.
2. Smaller Deficits Make Diet Control Easier And Reduce Rebound Risk
Think back to the story of Bob and Andy in the opening section of this book. It doesn’t matter
what you can achieve in the next month, what matters is that you can sustain things over the
coming months, and that you don’t reach the end of your diet so miserable that you can’t control
a careful change to maintenance to keep your definition.
3. You Don’t Run Into Skin Elasticity Issues
If you start losing much more than the rates above over an extended period, skin elasticity can
become an issue, meaning, you could be left looking like a deflated balloon for a temporary
period after your diet. This is because the rate at which your skin could come tight again was
exceeded by the rate of fat loss. Skin elasticity decreases with age, and decreases with the
number of times it is stretched and has to come tight again. This is why you will occasionally see
‘masters’ division (aged 40+, 50+, 60+ etc.) bodybuilders with loose skin on their lower abs.
4. There Are Potential Health Risks
Large reductions in energy intake mean a reduced nutrient availability for the body. Cut your
food intake in half and you cut that in half as well. This can have negative impacts on health,
especially if the restriction is over an extended period.
This brings us to an interesting point on restricting to create a deficit vs working harder to make
one: If you do the latter (increase activity for example) then you get to keep the same nutrient
availability, but at the cost of sustainability. There is no single right way to do things here, but
my preference tends to be to keep towards moderate dietary restriction rather than making
increases in weekly exercise (unless the person is sedentary in the first place).
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How This Affects Our Targets
It’s very hard to distinguish between fat loss and muscle gain - we aren’t able to trust body-
fat percentage measurement machines, and so we only have our weight and stomach
measurement changes to give us clues about how fat loss is progressing. So, instead of setting
fat-loss guidelines, it’s more practical, accurate and meaningful to set weight-loss guidelines
that slightly lower than any maximal fat-loss rate as this will take into account the potential for
muscle growth.
Weight-loss Guidelines
Body fat %
Loss /week
~2-2.5 lbs / 0.9-1.1 kg
~1.5-2 lbs / 0.7-0.9 kg
1-1.5 lbs / 0.45-0.7 kg
0.75-1.25 lbs / 0.35-0.6 kg
0.5-1 lbs / 0.2-0.45 kg
~0.5 lbs / 0.2 kg
<0.5 lbs / 0.2 kg
• For advanced trainees, the potential for muscle growth will also be a little lower, so the rate
of fat loss can be slightly higher, hence the ranges.
• These are just average guidelines - for shorter people it will be at the lower end of the ranges
or less; for taller people at the upper end of the ranges or more.
Balancing Motivation and Sustainability
Meta-analyses of the study evidence on slow vs fast weight loss show that faster rates of weight
loss are associated with better long-term outcomes - people are able to stick to their diets
longer, and they are more likely to sustain the weight loss.
However, it’s important to note that these studies are done on overweight and obese people,
not the leaner, experienced trainees that are typically looking to lose their winter fluff and
take themselves to shreds. So the results are specific to that population, which makes sense
when you think about it - if you have 80 lbs to lose, and I tell you that you need to lose 1 lb per
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week, you may struggle mentally to sustain your diet knowing that you have to keep it up for 18
Essential then is this: Balancing the motivation that comes with seeing the scale weight tumble at
a satisfying rate, vs losing weight too quickly and getting yourself into an unsustainable pattern of
training and eating.
People new to dieting have a tendency towards the latter, rather than taking things too slow. So,
if you find yourself losing weight at a speed that you find unable to sustain - take things a little
slower! Avoid an 'all or nothing' mindset.
If Muscle Is Lost, Don’t Panic!
Lost muscle mass can be regained quickly in most cases after dieting. This is because though
muscle protein is lost, the myonuclei that control how much muscle we can carry tend to stick
around, which makes regaining muscle a lot easier. So, while I don’t recommend going quicker
than the guidelines above, if it needs to be done (you have a deadline that needs to be met), and
muscle loss the result, I don’t want you to stress about it. Just bear in mind that controlling your
return to maintenance or adjusting your diet into a bulk after the cut will be harder this way,
meaning you’re more likely to regain the fat you worked so hard to lose, which you’ll note is one
of the reasons I don’t recommend losing weight too quickly.
FOR COACHES: There are two general exceptions to the weight-loss guidelines I have above.
1. There is a deadline and we have no option to go slower. Imagine the situation where
I get a call next April from my friend Okada who trains the Japanese judo team, and he tells
me that he has a concern that one of his star athletes isn’t going to make their weight class
in time for the summer Olympics and they need some help - you can be damn sure we’ll do
all we can. The key differences here from a regular client is that compliance is almost a given
with the top level athlete in this situation (they will suffer for their sport and country and do
whatever needs to be done), and the potential rebound back to their previous weight after the
event doesn’t matter.
2. To give an obese (30%+ body fat) individual a faster start to their diet. A short but
rapid weight loss phase at the outset (then followed by a more controlled period) has
been shown to have better long-term diet adherence rates. Before doing this, check that
they haven’t been dieting immediately prior to coming to you for coaching, and make sure
that their sleep is on point and stress levels low. I suggest you keep this period 4-6 weeks
If a prospective client insists that they go at a higher rate of fat loss than you feel comfortable
with, I’d suggest you think carefully about whether you want to take them on as a client.
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Summary Recommendations
In my opinion, smaller (than maximal) deficits are best.
There are limits to how much fat we can lose each day without losing muscle mass as well.
There are various factors that affect this, but one of the most important when considering diet
adjustments is the rate at which we lose weight. If we keep the rate of weight loss within certain
ranges, we have a shot at gaining some muscle gain as we lean out.
→ It’s in your interest to not exceed the target rates of fat loss in the table above.
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The Role Of The
Diet Break
Remember, the goal is to stay eating as much as possible, for as long as possible, so that you can
get leaner than you ever have, in the most comfortable way you ever have, so that you are able
to sustain it.
This is not only about making diet adjustments at the right time, but knowing when to take diet
breaks also.
What Is A ‘Diet Break’?
When I say ‘diet break’ I am referring to a complete break from counting or attempting to moni-
tor food intake.
A short period of regular eating has the potential to reverse some of the metabolic adaptations
to a caloric deficit, giving the hormones time to recover to normal levels. This means that you’ll
be less hungry and pissed off all the time, have more energy, fewer cravings, and potentially
you’ll be able to eat more than you otherwise would have and still progress with your diet.
Physiological reasons aside, taking periodical diet breaks is a good idea for the psychological
benefits also. However they are an underused tool in the dieters arsenal, aren’t sexy to talk
about, and the people that would likely benefit from them the most (the type A ‘stress heads’)
are usually the least willing to take them.
What To Do
• Eat to your hunger and don’t count macros.
• Keep your regular meal times.
Part 6 The Role Of The Diet Break
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• Keep on training or take a break. Make a choice. If you choose to continue training then you
may well make some strength gains. Enjoy it.
If these instructions seem too easy, you’re probably just over thinking the diet break. Don’t worry
though, that’s very common and I have a detailed diet break FAQ on the site here.
Length & Frequency
• 10-14 days, two weeks recommended. Unfortunately some hormones simply take longer
to recover to normal levels than others, so there is no cutting a diet break short.
• Frequency depends primarily on our level of leanness. - The leaner we get, the more our
bodies hate us (the harsher the metabolic adaptations become), so the more frequently they
should be taken.
Body fat %(men)
Diet Break Frequency
every 4-6 weeks
every 6-8 weeks
every 10-12 weeks
every 12-16 weeks
Women add ~7%.
Above are my own recommendations on diet break frequency, adapted from Lyle McDonald's
original recommendations after gaining experience. This is just a general guide and
psychological factors will come into play as well. I base frequency of diet breaks on how a client
is doing well mentally (mood, cravings, stress), as well as physically (energy, sleep, recovery).
With a slower rates of fat loss diet breaks can be less frequent. In my coaching experience I’ve
personally found that I’ve only had to recommend diet breaks as frequent as every 8 weeks,
even with those taking it to what I’d consider ‘shredded‘.
• You can expect a rise in the scale weight due to the increase in carb intake.
• You may feel fatter, but you’ll note that the weight that you gain here (7-10 lbs isn’t
uncommon) doesn’t correlate with the same level of increase in stomach measurements that
you saw yourself lose over the last few weeks when you lost that same amount of weight.
This is because most of the gain in weight will be your muscles filling with water/glycogen -
so you’ll feel bigger and fuller, and for the leaner folks, more vascular.
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• Some water will be gained under the skin, and there will be a little fat gain, but nothing
extreme (unless you purposefully binge eat the entire diet break - which is a very rare
exception if everything else has been set up well thus far).
FOR COACHES: Talk to your prospective client about the subject of diet breaks before taking
the client on. You don’t have to go into exceptional detail, but just mentioning it will give you
less resistance down the line when you make the decision that it would be best to take one.
Also, before taking a client on remember to check about their diet history - they may need to
take a diet break before you begin working together.
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When & How To
Make Adjustments
To Your Calorie
I categorise the adjustments that need to be made into one of two types: 1) A refinement of
the calculation that was made at the start of the diet, 2) Adjustments thereafter to keep things
progressing. These need to be handled in slightly different ways so I have sections for both.
This is by far the most detailed section of the book. I’ve written it as kind of a manual for making
adjustments and I have done my best to make decision trees to help you. They are certainly
not flawless and common sense should override anything you read here. Let me know in the
feedback form whether this is the kind of level of detail you like to see, whether you’d like less,
or even more, and I’ll bear that in mind for future revisions and editions.
1. The Refinement Of Your Initial
We know that our initial calculations were made using formulae that were developed based on
averages. Thus, though you may have gotten lucky, it’s likely that you may need to adjust things
to get back in line with your target rate of fat loss.
My rule: Do NOT make any adjustments until the four week point.
I would strongly advise that you wait until the four week point before making any adjustments.
Why? Because we need to have a consistent run of data from which to draw conclusions
about rates of progress. Before this point the chance are too high that we will have a random
fluctuation in the data that will screw up our analysis of it.
Part 7 When & How To Make Adjustments To
JP Your Calorie Intake
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Take a look at your data. Is there a jump from the first week to the second that isn’t in line with
the rest? Yes? Ok throw that week of data out and don’t consider it for the analysis. This will be
an initial jump in weight due to the change in carb intake.
Ask yourself: What is the average rate of weight loss per week over the last 3-4 weeks?
• Were you on target? If so, don’t change anything.
• Were you above your target? You should probably make an adjustment to slow things
down. The math for this is the same as in the next point, just reversed.
FOR COACHES: If the deficit works out to be higher than you originally calculated (the rate
of fat loss will be higher), it can be fine in some cases to keep the calorie/macro intake as it
is. The key things to look out for are that the client’s mood, strength, sleep and stress levels
are all in check. Also, be prepared to make calorie increases to slow down the rate of fat
loss if any of these things take a turn for the worse in the proceeding weeks.
• Were you below your target average weight loss per week? Then you want to reduce
your calorie intake. What follows are the instructions for that.
How To Make The Reduction
We know that a 3500 calorie weekly deficit is needed to produce around one pounds of fat loss.
This is a deficit of 500 calories per day. So, if your average rate of weight loss is short of your
target by 0.5 lbs for example, then you want to reduce your calorie intake by 250 kcal per day.
Protein can be kept the same - it’s the macronutrient that gives the most satiety, and is also
muscle sparing.
Reduce energy intake via your fat and carb macros - 50/50 respectively will work fine,
though there is scope for personal preference here as long as you…
Don’t go below 0.4 g* of fat per pound of lean body mass - from that point just adjust your
carb intake. When you calculate your fat requirement beware of the tendency to overestimate
lean body mass, as this will leave your minimal fat intake threshold higher than necessary. (*If
you cycle your fat intake with your training and non-training days, use the average per day.)
Applying these rules to create an additional 250 kcal deficit:
• If your diet is iso-caloric(same calories each day) and you have the same macros every
day: make a 25-30 g reduction in carb intake, a 10-15 g reduction to your fat intake.
• If your cycle your calorie and carb intake: On your training days reduce carbs by 50 g, fats
by 5 g, and on rest days reduce carbs by 25 g, fats by 15 g.
(1g Carbohydrate = 4 kcal, 1g Fat = 9 kcal)
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Things To Look Out For At This Stage
• If you are new to training, or have just re-started training after some time off, general
increases in limb measurements due to the ‘initial pump’ are to be expected in the first
couple of weeks.
• If you see unusually large jumps in the chest/back measurements (and often the leg
measurements) this is usually due to measurement inconsistencies or error. The chest/back
measurement takes some getting used to before people can find a pose/position they can
get consistent measurements with, and it’s not uncommon for people to get the tape twisted
behind their backs without them realising it. With the legs, people just tend to need practice
to get the same measurement site each time.
• It's likely that you will see the stomach measurements come down more in some places
than others. That’s perfectly normal and is the reason we take measurements at multiple
measurement sites. More on this in the next section.
2. Adjustments Mid-diet
I am rather arbitrarily distinguishing this as being any time past the 5th week point and onwards.
As we made an initial adjustment at the 4 week point this is of no relation to the accuracy of our
initial calculations, but is due to the reduction of energy needs as the diet has progressed. (In
honesty, those of you that found you had to make decreases at the four week update point, part
of that will have been due to these reductions already though.)
You are best to make this assessment at the 6 week point or later, so that you have time to
gauge how the last adjustment (if you made one) affected things. I’d suggest you then assess
your progress at 2 week intervals from there on.
Ask yourself: What is the average weight loss over the last 4 weeks? (Meaning weeks 3-6.)
• Were you on target? If so, continue as you were. Even if the stomach measurements don’t
change - don’t worry about it. This just means the fat loss happened in places that we didn’t
• Were you above your target? If so, consider increasing your calorie intake. (Instructions as
• Were you below your target? Here’s where things get interesting…
I’ve already explained that we need to be careful of making cuts to our diet prematurely, and also
that we need to be aware of the ‘stall and whoosh’ phenomenon that can happen sometimes.
This usually follows one of two patterns. - The scale weight suddenly stops changing and sits
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there for a few weeks, or the rate of scale weight change starts gradually decreasing. Here are
some checklists to help you decide whether or not a reduction in calorie intake is needed.
Weight & Measurement Checklist - Section 1
Did the scale weight suddenly stop changing?
No. → Skip to section 2.

Have the stomach measurements continued to decline at the same average rate as previously?
Yes. → Don’t worry about the scale weight not changing for now. It is probably just due to a
random change in glycogen/water balance, with the possibility of some muscle growth. Reassess
in two weeks.

Have you been consistent with your diet?
No. → Get more consistent with your diet. Come back and reassess in two weeks. Binges on the
weekend, or “cheat meals” can easily wipe out an entire week’s caloric deficit.

Are you under an unusual period of stress, and/or have you been sleeping poorly?
→ Though unusual, this is likely to be water retention, so keep things as they are for a
couple of weeks and if no change then consider making a reduction.
(See following section, “How To Make A Reduction.“)

Is the stressful situation likely to continue?
No. → If you feel you are ok to continue then carry on as you are. It’s likely that you just have
water retention and need to wait for it to pass. You will probably wake up one morning in the
next couple of weeks a few pounds lighter. If you don’t feel ok to continue then consider taking a
diet break for a week, possibly two. Then come back to this and see how you feel.

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Take a diet break, two weeks minimum. During your break do your best to mitigate whatever is
stressing you out. Consider 10 minutes of meditation in the mornings. (I use a phone app. called
'Headspace.') Sleep more if you can. Consider cutting back on training volume, but keep the
loading the same. (i.e. reduce the number of sets performed, but keep the total weight on the bar
if you can.) Come back to this and see how you feel after your break. If you feel fine to continue
then do so. If you still feel stressed then consider taking a longer break from dieting for now.
FOR COACHES: Stress not only causes water retention, but negatively affects diet progress,
recovery and training adaptations. Make sure that clients know about this and be thorough
when vetting clients before taking them on. Sometimes the right decision is to tell the client
to pause the diet, which isn’t going to be a popular decision if they have paid you and they
weren’t aware of these things. You have to be tough, and put the health of the client first over
them liking you. You don’t want to add a caloric deficit (a stressor) into the mix when someone
is already stressed. This gets more important/relevant the leaner someone gets.
Related: "Why can’t you work with people with a lot of life stress?" "Stress: In The Gym,
Out of The Gym, and How it Affects Your Program and Progress "
Weight & Measurement Checklist - Section 2
(Skip this unless you were instructed to read it in the checklist section 1.)
Has the rate of scale weight change been gradually decreasing?
No. → Re-read from the start of this section, you probably missed the relevant part.

Recall that as we get leaner if we wish to retain muscle mass the rate that we should target fat
loss needs to be reduced.
By your best estimation of your drop in body fat, is the new, lower rate of weight change
consistent with the recommended range of fat loss for the new, lower body-fat percentage that
you are at?
Yes. → Good. Stay as you are then.

Have the measurements continued to decline at the same rate?
Yes. → No problem then. You’re definitely losing fat, and are probably just experiencing some
muscle growth at the same time. Reassess in two weeks and see where you are then.
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Have you been consistent with your diet?
No → See section 1.

Are you under an unusual period of stress?
Yes. → See section 1.

Are you due a diet break?
Yes. → Take one. Resume your diet for two weeks afterwards and see if your weight starts to

It’s probably time to make a reduction then.
How To Make The Reduction
Option 1: Find the difference between the rate of weight loss that you’re at and your target,
and calculate the calorie reduction needed as per the guidelines in the previous section (“The
refinement of your initial calculation“). Honestly though, that is a bit overly precise and I usually
just go with option two, which is:
Option 2: Decrease overall energy intake by around 5-8%.
For most men this is a 100-200 kcal reduction, which can be as simple as making a 25-50 g re-
duction of carbs on the training days, and reducing carb intake by 25 g and/or fat intake by 10 g
on the rest days.
Points To Note When Assessing
Stomach Measurements
There is a trend to the way fat loss tends to happen on the stomach as we get leaner. Here is
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what you’ll likely notice in your stomach measurements:
• In the 10-20% body-fat range, fat loss tends to happen from the upper abs first and works it’s
way down. At the higher end of the range you can therefore expect to see more movement
in the upper stomach measurements than the lower. As you lean out, you’ll see more
reduction from the mid-stomach measurement (@the navel) and lower.
• At 10% body fat and below you will see minimal change in the mid and upper stomach
measurements. The lower stomach measurement and waist measurement will have the
biggest change, this is because the fat on your very lower abs and back is coming off at this
point. For this reason, visual changes will be very small looking front on, especially when
getting leaner than 8% body fat, when the fat on the abs is pretty much gone entirely.
• Above 20% body fat there does’t seem to be any pattern. I assume it’s because a large part
of the fat loss is visceral (the stuff around your organs) rather than the fat under your skin
(subcutaneous fat).
Limb Measurements - What You’ll Notice
Losses in arm, leg and chest/back measurement girth are to be expected and should not be as-
sumed to be mass losses. This is because you will lose fat on these places also. Reach your right
arm around under your left armpit and grab the fat on your back at chest level. Do the same
with your tricep and now your thigh. - As you get leaner all of this fat will be burned off and you
can expect these measurements to decrease.
There is also a pattern to the way this happens. Generally fat happens from the top down, with
little fat being stored in the legs in the first place, except for those that are obese.
• The arm measurements typically come down by the smallest amount, which makes sense
when you consider their small size relative to your chest and legs. Once you get past the 15%
body-fat level the reduction in the arm measurement is typically small (~1.5-2 cm), as you’ll
have lost most of your fat from this area already.
• The legs, typically, make proportionately the least losses as they carry the least fat. (We’re
talking about men remember.) The exception is obese individuals who carry significantly
more fat on their legs.
• The chest/back measurements will likely change the most, gradually less and less as you get
leaner with minimal change once you get lower than 10% body fat.
Signs Of Muscle Growth
Recall that our ability to gain muscle when in a deficit is:
• Inversely related to the level of training experience,
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• Inversely related to how lean you are,
• Inversely related to the severity of the caloric deficit,
• Related to the skill of the program designer (however this cannot trump the first four
• Related to the quality of your gym environment.
More regarding what you can achieve in my Goal Setting Series .
Muscle growth will hide some of the total fat loss figure when looking at the change in scale
weight, thus, measurements are important for telling us what is going on. Also, it stands to
reason that any muscle growth will affect the rates of change in the measurements you see.
Here are some important points to note when assessing:
• With novice or early-intermediate trainees especially it’s not uncommon for the legs to grow
(because they are forced to finally train them properly). For those over 25% body fat, the rate
of body fat loss will almost certainly outpace the rate of muscle growth and you can expect
a measurement decrease overall. For leaner individuals the overall size of the legs may
increase however.
• For skinny novice trainees, the stomach measurements can show little change despite there
being simultaneous fat loss and muscle growth. This is due to the thickening of the abs,
obliques, and lower back muscles, which offsets some of the measurable fat loss reductions.
This effect is more pronounced on the mid and lower stomach measurements.
• Muscle is more dense than fat. Therefore, if you lose the same amount of fat as you
gain muscle on any particular body part, you can expect that to measure smaller overall.
However, you’ll usually look more jacked despite your actual size being smaller - shredded
natural bodybuilders tend to be heavier than they look in regular clothes, but lighter than
they look on stage.
Training & Muscle Mass Preservation
As long as you don’t slash your calories too hard, have a really low protein intake, or completely
inappropriate training volume, then you should be ok for maintaining your muscle mass while
dieting. As a check, we can use how we’re getting on with our training to gauge whether this is
being achieved.
• Training progression correlates well to muscle gain. - If you have progressed with your
training, you have probably gained some muscle mass even if you fail to measure it. (The
exception is this case of rank beginners who can expect mainly neurological adaptations
before muscle growth during the initial phase of their training careers.)
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• Training regression can indicate muscle loss, but doesn’t always.
• Maintenance of the load you can lift in your heaviest sets is a rough indicator of
muscle mass retention, even if training volume is reduced significantly, up to 2/3rds I
believe. (I could caveat the hell out of this but I’ll leave that for the next revision perhaps if
people seem to want that level of detail.)
At each update the most important question to ask yourself is therefore whether your strength
has been maintained at the minimum. However these two next checklists go a little deeper.
Training Checklist - Section 1
Has your strength been maintained at the minimum?
Yes. → Good. Skip to section 2.

If it was just a single bad workout, ignore it. These happen at random. If not,
Were poor sleep, stress, or poor quality of diet possibly to blame?
Yes. → Alright, that is more than likely the reason. Consider taking a diet break or upping the
calorie intake if this situation continues.

Has the reduction in your lifts been small and gradual?
Yes. → This could just be due to the mechanical inefficiency of getting leaner. Anthropometrics
(relative limb lengths) differ from person to person and this will affect different lifts in different
ways, so it is hard to put numbers on what is normal here. However, losing ~1% on your lifting
total, per 1% of body fat you drop, doesn’t seem like a bad rule of thumb.

1) Residual fatigue may be masking fitness (strength).
2) It could be that you are coming down with the flu but just haven’t shown any of the obvious
symptoms yet. (This is going to happen once a year on average.)
Reduce training volume for a week by 1/3. (This is a deload.) Continue with training as normal the
following week. Reassess two weeks from now. (If it was the flu, then stay out of the gym and rest.)
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Did this fix the issue?
Yes. → Good, continue with your diet.

Try reducing training volume by ~20%.
Did this fix the issue?
Yes. → Good, continue with your diet.

Try increasing calorie intake 5-10%. If this didn’t fix the issue, try a break from training combined
with a diet break. If that doesn’t work then it’s probably something entirely unrelated to dieting.
Consider seeing a doctor.
Training Checklist - Section 2
(Skip this unless you were instructed to read it in the checklist section 1.)
Were you reasonably expecting to progress with your training?
No. → Fine then. Continue as you have been.

Have you been sleeping well? Is stress low at the moment? Have you been eating well recently?
No (to any). → That’s likely the issue. Work to fix these things as you continue onwards. If in
doubt, take a diet break.

Do you feel well recovered?
Yes. → Try increasing overall training volume. You may need more training stimulus to keep
progressing .

Residual fatigue might be masking fitness (strength). Reduce training volume for a week by 1/3.
See how you feel the next week. Reassess two weeks from now.
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Did this fix the issue? (i.e. Are you now progressing again?)
Yes. → Good. Keep onwards good soldier!

Possibility 1: You may have reached the end of your capacity to make muscle gains while at
your current caloric deficit. Either, increase calorie intake and accept a slower rate of fat loss, or
accept that you are no longer going to make gains. If the latter, just focus on maintaining your
strength for the rest of the cut and look forward to the sweet gains you will make when you
come to bulk later.
Possibility 2: There is something wrong with the strength training programming. This is far
beyond the scope of this book though.
On Getting Exceptionally Lean
“But how do I get lower than 10% body fat? I always seem to struggle at that point.”
There are no tricks or gimmicks to getting exceptionally lean, it just appears to most people that there
are, or we want to believe that there must be because it seems like such a struggle. Here’s why:
• The leaner we get the more our bodies hates us (causing irritability, hunger and lethargy).
People have often dieted down too hard and fast to get to this point, and haven’t had any
diet breaks, which exacerbates these things.
• At the same time the rate that we can lose fat is much lower - so the changes each week
are far less visually rewarding (if noticeable at all). This is especially true when getting to the
8-9% body-fat point, where nearly all the fat has gone from the abs. - People don’t see the
lower-back fat coming off in the mirror each day, so they think nothing is happening.
• Furthermore, people usually forget to measure at multiple places on the stomach, just
measuring at the navel. This reinforces in their minds that nothing is happening, when in
fact if they had measured two inches below the navel, they’d see changes in the data each
week as the lower-back fat came off. This would have kept them motivated, because they are
unlikely to notice the changes in the mirror week to week.
The combination of these things drives people nuts (the stress from which can, funnily enough,
cause water retention), and makes it seem that getting lean requires some special tricks.
- It doesn’t. Really, it’s just a matter of time and patience.
If you have followed all the advice in this guide so far, you’ll probably be fine. However if you
find yourself struggling just take another diet break before continuing. You can try switching to
more satiating foods perhaps - like potatoes instead of rice or pasta, or adding in more green
vegetables if your intake is currently lacking.
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Full Examples Of
How I Coached The
Clients You
Voted On
Alright, so technically nobody voted on these. What I did was take the top 10 most clicked photos
from the results page, e-mailed those clients, told them about this book project, and asked their
permission to share their information as part of it. These are the guys that kindly consented,
plus one addition that I wanted to include as it was an interesting example of water retention
masking progress.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this section, it’s that things really can be very
simple. However, when things don’t go to plan, that’s when you can refer to the rule framework
Important note: I get clients to use a simplified macro counting framework as I believe that
leads to better adherence. This is a form of purposeful undercounting, the degree to which will
vary depending on the client and their interpretation of the rules. What this means is that the
macros you see in the spreadsheet will be around 5-15% lower than what they were actually
eating in most cases.
All clients in the examples below trained three days a week and ate twice a day, unless otherwise
Part 8 Full Examples Of How I Coached The
JP Clients You Voted On
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Points to note:
Scott was one of my first clients. If Scott were a client now, I’d have set his fat intake higher,
probably to around 50g and 90g on the training and rest days respectively, just because fat
intake is important for hormonal regulation and function. It didn’t seem to matter in his case
though as you can see, he thrived - his strength improved and size in the arms and chest came
up as well. This was a pretty simple case of a nice cut to shreds.
• Training was RPT, 3 days a week. Pretty much the same as you see on the site here.
• The initial bicep measurements in week 1 were clearly taken in error - people do not put 4
cm on their arms in a single week.
• Scott tweaked his back deadlifting around week 8. He got checked out and it was nothing
serious, so we dropped the weight ~15% and took it more cautiously from there on. - This
was probably just a case of being a little greedy - making jumps in weight too quickly. I
should have pointed that out, but I wasn’t very experienced at that point.
Click for Scott's Data Analysis and Coaching Decision Video
Password: coachingmanual
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I worked with John on and off for 18 months. This is despite consistently telling him that he
didn’t need to rehire me as I’d already told him exactly what we would do together if he did.
However, he insisted that he wanted to do it together rather than on his own as he felt that it
was worth it for the accountability, which I can certainly relate to.
Above you’ll see the first 12 weeks of data. You’ll see the initial whoosh of water in the first week
due to the lower carbohydrate intake overall. The reason for the macro adjustment in week 5
is because John kept saying that he was feeling quite full, and as his mood, energy, sleep and
stress were all on point I made a small adjustment downwards to calorie intake. It’s a shame he
strained his back in the fifth week, but it wasn’t anything serious and he was cleared by a doctor
to keep lifting, he just did so at a lighter weight.
Points of note:
• He ate three meals a day - one at 1pm, a snack after his afternoon training, and then a big
meal for dinner around 9pm.
• Diet breaks were taken: at the 12 week point, at the 30th week point (delayed for a vacation),
40th week point and then every 12 weeks thereafter.
• We made only three adjustments to the macros, one of which you see in the spreadsheet
above in week 5. The second one was made at the 24 week point, which involved a simple
reduction of 50g to his carbohydrate intake on training days, 25g from his rest days. The
third was made on the 38th week where I felt that we needed to make a small increase to
the macros because John felt lethargic on his training days. I didn’t feel that it mattered much
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where the change came from (fats or carbs) so I asked John his preference, and we added
15g of fats and 10g of carbs to the training days. There were no other changes needed
during the whole period.
• For those that are interested, I’ve uploaded the rest of John’s data sheets to the site here: 2 ,
3, 4 . Data is only available up until week 59 as I didn’t coach him past that point. You’ll see
that there were weeks of little change, followed by weeks of faster progress. This is fairly
standard for people who diet for a long time and is just part of the dieting game.
• John got a deadlift PR of 375×5 in the 42nd week.
• He switched to an early morning fasted training schedule in the 50th week as it fit his schedule
better. Meal frequency changed to twice daily - lunch and dinner. (The afternoon snack
post training was no longer needed.) There were no noticeable differences in fat loss rate or
strength from this period. The training time and meal frequency alteration had no meaningful
effect on progress (other than to make his life easier, which is of course important). I really
can’t say I have noticed any difference in general rates of fat loss between fasted or fed
training client groups in these years - what people can adhere to and prefer is key.
Click for John's Data Analysis and Coaching Decision Video
Password: coachingmanual
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I worked with Pep for 12 weeks so the photos show that time frame. However, Pep decided
to continue cutting for another 6 weeks after working with me and so you see a full 18 week
data set above. I decided not to include the 18 week photo because the lighting/pose was too
different to be a fair comparison. The data is interesting though.
Points of note:
• Pep’s strength came up gradually throughout the first 14 weeks. Training was three days
a week, using some no-frills 5×5 programming. I think this happened partially due to the
reduction in volume to his training that we made initially, and partially due to simply having
a better mindset and belief in himself. (In hindsight, I’d say that’s why Scott made gains while
he was cutting also.) I can’t explain the drop in his squat and bench at the 14 week point as
we weren’t working together at that time and I didn’t notice it to ask when I requested this
data afterwards. It didn't appear to have affected his muscle mass retention though as you
can see from the lack of change in chest/back, arm and leg measurements. - I would guess
this was a correction in form he was making.
• Notice that from weeks 8-13 the scale weight hardly moved at all, and yet the stomach
measurements continued to decline. It just happens like this sometimes. The cut to the
macros at the 11 week point arguably wasn’t necessary, however strength was doing well,
hunger and cravings were fine, sleep and stress all good, and as Pep was keen to get the cut
over and done with I conceded to his request to make a small reduction.
Click for Pep's Data Analysis and Coaching Decision Video
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Tom trained at either 10am or 4:30pm depending on his schedule. For the former we just ate a
big lunch and dinner. For the latter we included a snack after his workout.
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Points of note:
• There was no need to make any adjustments to the macros for the entire 12 week period.
This is the exception rather than the norm, but I’m happy to include this example as it does
happen sometimes.
• Note also that there was very little change in the scale weight from weeks 3-6, and then
weeks 8-12. If I hadn’t had the measurement data (which showed a downward trend in the
stomach measurements) then I would have had a hard time persuading Tom that we didn’t
need to make an adjustment. (Remember, we can’t rely on the mirror to gauge progress.
Some days he will have felt leaner, some days he would have felt fatter.)
• Note that there was an approximate 3 cm reduction in the chest/back measurements, ~1 cm
off the legs and arms. This is fairly standard and are the kind of expected changes due to fat
loss that I was talking about earlier in the guide.
Click for Tom's Data Analysis and Coaching Decision Video
Password: coachingmanual
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I worked with Yousef for 12 weeks. The pictures taken above represent a 26 week time frame, as
he continued by himself after working with me. We have the data for the first 17 weeks.
Points of note:
• Yousef was not new to training, but he was fairly new to the barbell lifts, hence the low start-
ing weight but good progression. Given his level of muscle mass I suspect he would have
made a lot better progression had he been in a better gym environment.
• Just one change was needed to the macros, which was at the 6 week point. Though his
weight stayed the same the measurements dropped fairly steadily until week 4, hence why
I didn’t make a reduction at that point. However, things started to slow down so I made
the adjustment at week 6. Fat intake was put higher on the training days, through Yousef’s
request, as this would make diet adherence easier given his eating habits/cultural environ-
• Looking at the chest/back measurement in particular, it seems there was a good amount of
muscle growth for the first half of the cut. The reduction in the latter half is just what we’d
expect with fat loss and muscle maintenance.
• No other changes were necessary for Yousef to take himself to shreds. He had one diet
break during weeks 11 and 12.
Click for Yousef's Data Analysis and Coaching Decision Video
Password: coachingmanual
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C. - An example Of An Extreme
‘Stall’ & ‘Whoosh’
This client wished to remain anonymous, hence the lack of photos.
This is one of the most interesting cases of a stall and whoosh.
Points of Note:
• There was a lack of scale weight change for nearly 8 weeks from weeks 1 to 9. I decided not to
make any adjustment because I was just absolutely convinced based on his feedback - a little
stress at work, his notes on hunger - that we were in a caloric deficit and this was just water
hiding the fat losses. He wasn’t happy about this, but I explained in detail how this can happen
and he trusted my decision. I think if I hadn’t clearly had a good amount of experience as a coach
he would probably have quit, thinking that I was talking nonsense. However, he stuck with it and
it turned out to be the right one and you can quickly see the weight and stomach measurements
start coming down from week 9. He was very happy with how things turned out in the end.
• The decrease in the lifts in the initial weeks and then return to strength I put down to some new
stress at work, the heat at the tail end of Summer in New York, and the adjustment to the caloric
• Notice the huge change in stomach measurements in the first week. I’m guessing that he
stuck his stomach out in the first week, but realised his error and tensed his stomach for the
measurements thereafter.
• Interestingly (you’ll have to take my word on this), though total change to the stomach
measurements was only around 3.5 cm, the way he shredded up makes it look like a lot more than
that. I don’t have a concrete explanation why, but occasionally photos are more useful than data.
Click for C's Data Analysis and Coaching Decision Video
Password: coachingmanual
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Coming Back Up To
Maintenance To
Maximally Maintain
Your Shreds
The end of a diet is something to be rejoiced, but people screw up the transition to maintenance
after dieting generally in one of two ways: 1) by dieting blindly without ever thinking how they
were going to maintain it afterwards, 2) by dieting for too hard for too long and then simply not
being able to maintain it. By the time you get to this point you won’t have made those mistakes.
When you are done dieting you have one of two choices: start a bulk, or seek to maintain your
condition. (For former I have exceptionally detailed guidelines here: How To Adjust Your Diet To
Successfully Bulk. )
Some reasons you might want to come up to maintenance instead of bulking:
• You’re happy/satisfied with your physique at the current time.
• You’re a model, actor, physique or weight-class competitor that has a job/competition
coming up and need to stay exceptionally lean.
• You’re a bodybuilder who has just competed but has another show later in competition
season (a month or two for example) and doesn’t have enough time to start a bulk.
• You’re coming up to a stressful period in life or work.
• You simply want to take a break for a while.
This guide is for you.
Part 9 Coming Back Up To Maintenance To
JP Maximally Maintain Your Shreds
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Why We Can Eat More
Here are the reasons that we can eat more after dieting - in roughly their decreasing order of
1. We no longer need to be in a caloric deficit,
2. Our metabolisms come back to a normal level,
3. We fidget more, and exercise more without thinking about it (NEAT),
4. We can (and often do) train harder,
5. There is an increased food intake and costs of digestion (TEF),
6. We get bigger and so the energy costs of movement are higher.
This all makes sense, right? Ok good. Now there is an important point I’d like to make as it
relates to the practicalities of finding maintenance.
Maintenance calorie intake is the level of calorie intake where we have enough energy to
maintain weight and regular hormonal function. However, maintenance of weight in the short-
term does not always mean that we are actually at maintenance.
You already know that this might be because of water retention, but we’re not really talking
about that here. - We’re talking about someone who has finished their diet and is looking to find
the level of food intake where they can eat the most without starting to gain fat.
It’s possible to increase calorie intake enough to maintain weight, but not enough to return
yourself to normal hormonal function.
Have a look at my whiteboard scribble below:
DCM - diet condition maintenance, NCM - normal condition maintenance.
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You can see in the diagram that I’ve singled out two points where people’s weight can remain
stable (at least temporarily) - something I’m calling post diet maintenance, and normal condition
maintenance levels of intake. However, how we perform, feel and function will be vastly different
between the two. We want to find the latter, and the difference in feeling between the two will
be like you got worked over by those Mercedes AMG engineers - bigger engine, wider stickier
tyres, naughty exhaust note, and a bi-turbo.
Finding Maintenance
Step 1: Adjust For The Current Caloric Deficit
1. Calculate your average weekly weight loss over the last four weeks.
2. Calculate the amount of calories that you need to add back into your diet to make up for the
deficit that allowed you to lose this weight.
3. Add it back in.
Recall that for every 1 lb we’re losing, that’s an approximate 3500 kcal weekly caloric deficit,
which is around 500kcal daily. Thus, if you were losing 0.5 lbs per week on average, add in 250
kcal to each day.
Make this increase from fat and carb intake, as per your personal preference.
As we’ll have a higher carb intake this will bring with it an increase in glycogen storage and water.
You may look more vascular, your muscles will certainly look more fuller, and some water may
find its way under the skin causing a slight blurring of definition on the abs. This can happen
almost immediately after making the initial increase to carb intake in step one. - Don’t confuse
this with fat gain.
Remember, this is going to bring us to something I’m calling diet condition maintenance, not
normal metabolic condition maintenance calorie intake, as it will not account for factors 2-6 in
our list above. We need to keep adding calories in if we are to eat the maximum we can and still
maintain our shreds.
Step 2: Make Incremental Increases To Account For The Incalculable Factors
We can’t calculate factors 2-6 above so our best bet is to just to make fixed incremental increases
to calorie intake every couple of weeks and see how the body responds. We want to push this as
far as we can without gaining fat and then dial back slightly.
I’d recommend fixed increases of 5-10% of calorie intake each time you make an adjustment. It
can be left up to taste preference whether you make increases from carbs, fats or both.
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Your weight will slowly rise due to the increase in water balance and carb intake, however you
probably won’t experience much more water under the skin when compared with the change
that you experienced with the initial adjustment.
Continue to make increases to your intake for as long as possible but stop when fat gain starts
to occur. This can be determined visually, but is ideally best left to something more objective like
body fat callipers (one of the only times I recommend their use). When fat gain occurs, dial back
calorie intake slightly. Your weight will stay stable at this point.
Done. Boom.
Adrian, ~9 lbs heavier post diet, after a 12 week lean-bulk. Looking at the obliques and abs, lifting progress,
rates of theoretical muscle gain potential given his training experience, and the fact that there is little
fat gain, I estimate that ~50-60% of this weight increase is muscle. The rest will be from glycogen/water
increases. When water balance increases, most happens in the muscle/body but some under the skin. In
Adrian’s case the slight smoothing effect of the abs is due to either this, a little fat gain, or a combination
of both. You can expect this slight smoothing effect when you come back up to maintenance. Thus, if your
goal is to maintain your level of shreds, I’d suggest you get slightly leaner than your target first even if that
is a little smaller in size then you’d like ideally.
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Click for Adrian's Data Analysis and Coaching Decision Video
Password: coachingmanual
Maintaining Your Condition
Continuing To Train
Feel free to take a week or two off if you would like of course, but don’t slack off permanently.
The clearest correlational factor that separates people that are successful in keeping the weight
off long term vs those that aren’t is the continuance of exercise after dieting. Admittedly, this
isn’t likely relevant to many of you reading this book as you’re probably as addicted to lifting
as I am. However for those of you that coach, and I mean the novices in particular that aren’t
addicted to hitting the weights yet, be sure to strongly suggest to your clients that they continue
to train. The gym will probably have become an ingrained habit for them at this point so it
shouldn’t be hard to do this. To keep things interesting for them it’s probably best that you
suggest some strength goals for their key lifts based on bodyweight - achieving their first 1x
bodyweight squat for example, etc. This way they’ll likely get a recomp effect while around their
calorie maintenance.
Loosening off of counting
As long as people bring the right attitude to the table, I believe that it is possible for the majority
of us to maintain (or stay very close to) our shredded condition after dieting without needing to
count macros each day.
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The discipline from the period of counting for the diet seems to have a positive carry effect on
any non-counting maintenance period, and after time most people will get to a point where
they can semi-autoregulate their diet and maintain their condition. - If you find your waist line
increasing, by just making a conscious decision to eat a little less, you should be able to bring
things back in line.
This is not to say that everyone will be able to do this immediately after finishing their diet - most
people will need have a transitional period from counting to non-counting. Generally speaking,
those that have lost the most weight will need to have a longer transition period than others,
and your body will fight you the hardest (ramping up hunger) to try to get you back up to your
previous weight.
• For anyone that has a history of weight regain or obesity, I’d suggest that you make this period
3-6 months, easing yourself into it, while your body adjusts to your new a set/settling point.
• This also applies to those that lost weight too fast initially (above my recommended fat
loss guidelines), even if the total weight loss wasn’t very large, they will have a harder time
maintaining things and will need to have a more gradual transition period.
What Is The Maximum Level Of Leanness
That I Can Reasonably Expect To Maintain
There are genetic, environmental and willpower components to this.
Nobody is able to walk around at a stage shredded body fat levels (3-5%) all the time. The body
(fearing survival - impending war or famine) fights us too hard, ramping up hunger and making
it impossible to maintain.
Though it will vary from individual to individual, I would say a body-fat percentage somewhere
between 7-12% is maintainable for the average individual. (For reference here, I’d consider Scott
be around 8%, John 10%, Pep 8%, Tom 9%, and Yousef 8% at the end of their diets. I’d say Adrian
is around 9% before starting his return to maintenance/lean-bulk, and possibly a percentage point
higher on the right.)
Yes, there are exceptions to this rule - excellent genetics, sport, or otherwise (drugs), but I’m
talking about regular people with regular lives.
So of the factors that we can control, what does ‘maintainable leanness’ depend on?
In a sentence - the balance of happiness between the satisfaction you derive from your low
body-fat percentage, with the drawback of having to control your urges in restaurants, bars and
social occasions.
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You may think that being lean is going to make you happy. It might. But it’s more likely just going
to be a sense of satisfaction of having scratched that itch of being shredded lean rather than
happiness that you feel.
Many people tie up their self esteem in their physical appearance. If this is you, I understand, I
have been there. At some point, probably through circumstance rather than design, you’ll realise
that whether you walk around at 7% or 9%, 8% or 12%, there isn’t a damn bit of difference in
how people treat you, and you will uncouple this association. You’ll be a bit looser in accepting
restaurant invites, you’ll drink a few extra beers without worrying, and the enjoyment you’ll
derive from that will outweigh any sense of unhappiness about that 2-4% extra body fat
percentage you carry.
Furthermore, by having gotten shredded lean the once and without suffering, you know you can
do it again at any time. That’s a very powerful thing and will help you be happier with yourself
even if you know you’re not in your absolute prime condition.
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Bonus: Coaching Notes
- For Coaches And
Prospective Coaches
Broadly speaking, your role as a coach is to put their data in perspective, to be the objective
voice of reason, to stop people making rash decisions, getting wound up by a water weight
fluctuations, bad workouts, or something else. That's what the pervious sections were about.
This section has nothing to do with how to successfully diet, at all. It is for all the stuff
that wouldn’t neatly fit into the sections above. As the name suggests, it’s for coaches and
prospective coaches - things that I’ve had to think about deeply over the last four years. It mainly
concerns coaching as a business and other advice that I’d like to talk about.
• Work Ethic
• The Value In Detailed Writing
• Openness & Trust
• Morals
• On Client Intake & Filtering
• Choosing How To Communicate
• Developing Buy-In
• Reviews - To Be Valued, Not Feared
I’m writing this with the guys that have asked me to teach them how to coach in mind. These are
my own additional notes and thoughts. Unlike the content above that is largely based in science,
what you’re about to read are just my opinions and way.
Work Ethic
It seems that everyone and their mother wants to be an online coach nowadays. I can
understand why - location freedom is a wonderful thing. However, as many find out quickly,
it’s not the quick road to riches that people think it is, and (as with everything) you won’t be
successful if you don’t have passion for it.
Passion. Seriously now. If you do not love what you do, and I mean truly love it, then find a new
career. If you don’t feel a tingle of excitement in your balls when you read a new article (or
study) by one of the people you respect in this field then it may be a sign that you need to do
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something else. (Then again, perhaps I’m a bit weird.)
I’ve put a lot of effort into making the site look good and read well. There’s hardly a day that’s
gone by in the last four years where I haven’t made an edit to it in some form or other. I do this
because I’m addicted to making the edits and I’m conscious that I need to be careful to not put
out any incorrect or unbiased information. Also I’m a firm believer that it’s good for business,
that this level of care and attention to detail shines through, leads people to trust me, and to
apply for coaching, which is ultimately what puts food and craft beer on the table.
Be prepared to work long hours or you’re screwed from the start.
The Value In Detailed Writing
I’m going to share a document that I wrote for my friend around this time last year when we
were talking about building a credible and lasting coaching business. It’s been a pleasure to see
him take what I call my 'full guide' concept and running away with it to storming success this last
year. Forgive the bad language, I wanted to leave this unedited as it captures the emotion well.
Why Is RippedBody.jp Successful?
What I have written here may sound very clever, but that is only in hindsight. This was all pretty
much accident rather than plan. Looking back now when I analyse things, here is what I’ve deduced:
You’ve seen for yourself how the site brings people back to read the articles again and again.
It’s like that with a lot of the articles on the site. That’s what I want. People don’t hire someone
after reading one thing, they need repeat exposure. So the question is then, how to get that
repeat exposure.
The solution to that I figured a while back was instead of just writing articles as individual,
stand alone pieces of advice, I’d tie them in to a greater “full guide” concept. When people
come onto the site on any article they see a reference to that concept in each one, so that
they feel they are just scratching the surface. You sew the seed in their minds that to not click
or bookmark this would be to be missing out. They then click through and keep reading, giving
them repeat exposure. The repeat exposure builds up trust, and that leads to a very small
fraction of people inquiring.
I make the barrier to entry high, by stating clearly my needs/requirements of customers on
the application page, but offer something free that few others explicitly state: that I’ll tell it to
them straight what I think they need to do without buttering up my words, and tell them what
I think we can achieve if we work together, before they decide whether they want to hire me.
Implicitly, I say I’m not going to bullshit them because: 1) I don’t want them to be moaning at
me in the e-mail for a full 12 weeks, 2) I don’t need their money in order to get by this month, I
do perfectly fine.
The market that this hits is very small. It’s generally gym going dudes, 25-45, that are fed up
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of seeing 20 different ways of doing things, and just want “one f****ing answer!” that actually
works, from a trustable source.
I’ve created the trust kind of by accident. Basically, I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve in many
places - the podcast, and a few posts - talking about my Grandma dying, mum getting really
sick again, injuries, getting attacked in the street as a kid leading me to Karate & training,
then Japan, and then seeing everyone get ripped off here drove me f***ing nuts so I set up a
Japanese site trying to help the 99% of the people that can’t read any English to find out the
truth from the bullshit.
Essentially, I wrote the site for people like me as a guide. ~99.9% of readers use the guides on
the site and don’t hire me, the other 0.1% are busy and just want to get me to show them how
to do it cause it isn’t worth their time figuring it out, or they want me to do it objectively for
Openness & Trust
Be open in your writing and write in your own voice. People will respond better to you and you’ll
get more applicants, have more open communication, and better outcomes as a result.
Never forget this fact - when people first come across our websites or Facebook pages we are
just some guy sitting on the end of a computer that they don’t know - yet ultimately you want to
take them from that state of mind to asking them to hand over hundreds of dollars - why should
they trust you?
Be there for people.
Someone thinking of hiring me can look back through the comments for the last four years, see
that I’ve almost never missed a single day in answering someone, see that I’ve been helpful each
time, and though I’m still just some dude at the end of a keyboard, they know that the chances
that I’m going to run off with their money are slim to none.
There is an extraordinary amount of appreciation and trust built up through these public online
interactions. I often see the same people commenting multiple times across the site as they plot
their path through the guides. This kind of makes people feel that they owe me something. I’ve
had some people say they want to donate money, or hire me just to support me, yet I couldn’t
recall ever communicating with them in the comments. Just how powerful are these comment
answers? I think it may be key.
“It’s easy to have morals when you’re in a position where your financial stability is certain.”
I have developed a very thorough client intake process. The purpose is to help me determine
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whether or not I should take an applicant on as a client, which depends on compatibility of
communication styles, and most importantly, whether I feel that the chances of me being able to
help this person are high enough.
This is important because reputation is a valuable thing and in the internet age, shitty coaches
have no place to hide in the long term. The good part about this is that the cream will rise to the
top. - You can be this cream if you want to be, but you will have to make short-term sacrifices for
it and this means earning less than you could have, turning people down when it was the right
thing to do.
I am guilty of boasting about my morals in the past regarding being very thorough before taking
people on, but my friend that I quoted above made a good point - if I hadn’t been in a financially
stable position, would I still have done the same? I would like to think so but I really don’t know
the answer. What is certain is that selective intake of clients is what lead to good reviews and
successes at the outset, which is what lead to a cascade of trust and has allowed me to still be
sitting here doing this today.
I put that down to some very good advice from an old teaching colleague Mr Kato. - I was about
to quit my high school job and throw myself into this business - sink or swim - but he told me to
wait for a year, get the business started, and try doing it on the side first. I’m very glad I did cause
it took the pressure off, and though I worked all hours of the day during that year it allowed me
to make smarter decisions at the outset, knowing that I had a fallback plan.
On Client Intake & Filtering
I mentioned in the previous section the importance of developing a very thorough applicant
vetting process for reasons of reputation. I’d like to talk a little more about this.
Those that don’t take the process seriously are the least likely to be successful, and yet the most
likely to blame their lack of progress on you. This is unfair, but that’s just how some people are.
It’s essential to do your best to filter out these people, and I aim to do that as quickly as possible.
- The application page does not read like a sales page, it’s written in my own voice, as that is
how I e-mail people.
- I let people know that the application process is fairly involved. This pretty much eliminates
non-serious enquiries as they won’t be bothered to go through it.
- I have a list of requirements so that I don’t get people apply outside of the area that I coach
or am able to.
Also, by having multiple e-mails back and forth before any money changes hands, the client can
get to know whether your style is a good match for them - whether your e-mail response times
are acceptable to them, whether they are they happy about your predictions and suggestions on
what you think that you can achieve together. If they aren’t then they just won’t mail you back.
Don’t take it personally and never chase down a sale.
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Equally important is finding out whether they appear to focus and concentrate when they read
e-mails. Cause if they aren’t doing this from the outset, it doesn’t bode well for later on when
things get more detailed. By implementing a ‘no-smartphone rule’ two years back I’ve been able
to produce better results for clients, and my life has been made a lot easier - win-win. More
about this in the next section.
Choosing How To Communicate
I choose to communicate with clients exclusively via e-mail as I’ve found this to be the most
effective way of doing things.
I tried Skype and it simply wasn’t for me. People would forget things that were said and they
would have to be repeated in the e-mail anyway, I always have to be tied to a strong internet
connection (which can bring about it’s own stresses), I needed to have a lot of meetings in my
calendar (which I personally don’t like), people are late, and the chances of me screwing up are
E-mail allows for a consistent customer experience, and as consistency is tied into satisfaction,
this is a big win for e-mail. I read and respond to e-mails only once a day. This encourages
people to think things through before e-mailing, and ties into my idea of creating independence
in clients as I coach them over the 12 weeks. E-mails also form a valuable written record (for
both you and the client) later on. I want them to refer to the information I send so they can learn
to answer their own questions and gradually become independent, and it’s important to have a
record of all the commutation when reading back and making decisions.
What that of course means is that people need to focus when reading and responding to emails,
which brings around it’s own bunch of painful hilarity in this smartphone age - people just can’t
put in the necessary degree of focus on a detailed e-mail (or series of e-mails) when they are on
their smartphones - this is partly down to the tiny screen, and partly down to the distractions
around them. The biggest problem is that people miss things, and this means I have to send an
e-mail to ask for more information, which causes an additional day’s delay (cause I only answer
e-mail once a day) and that leads to frustration and unhappiness on the client end.
The only answer has been to ban people from reading or responding to my e-mails from their
smartphones. Since doing that everything has become a lot easier, I’ve had happier clients and
better results.
Of course, saying, “please don’t mail me from your smartphone” is not going to be effective
unless you enforce the rule, and this is not at all easy because we are trying to break people’s
habits. This means I have had to be strict. Here’s what I do:
• I state very clearly in the requirements on the application page that I don’t allow
communication from smartphones.
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• I have a checkbox when they apply: “Are you ok with my no-smartphone rule.” - Yes/No.
• I remind them of this rule in my first e-mail to them. This e-mail contains a questionnaire,
and it will be difficult to fill out the level of detail necessary on a smartphone. So this re-
enforces the rule.
By this point it’s fairly certain that people will have seen this rule - even if they were on their
smartphone for all of it, they are not likely to missed all three warnings (this is the reason I have
to say it three times). Whether they choose to respect that rule works as it’s own little test of
their respect for me - which is important because as we've seen, there may be times where you
need to make decisions that the client doesn't agree with but simply has to trust your judgement
• If any applicant then mails me from their smartphone at any point before they become
a client, this shows me that they aren’t the kind of person that can read and respond to
carefully written e-mails, and that the coaching won’t work. There is no choice in my mind
but to decline their application. I send them a one sentence reply thanking them for their
application but declining to take it any further. I do not make any exceptions from then on,
no matter what they write back as I want a reputation as someone that keeps their word.
• If a current client e-mails me from their smartphone (happens occasionally, and I really don’t
mind that as mistakes do happen) they receive the following autoresponder reminder:
This is an automated responder, a filter Andy has set up to move any mails sent from an
smartphone automatically to the trash box when he logs into his mail account.
He did this because he got fed up of feeling like a teacher scolding a child requesting people to
not mail him from their smartphones each day. So, he figured this is a good way of avoiding
that awkwardness on both sides - Andy will never know, and people receiving this won’t take it
Please wait till you can get to a computer and then mail him again, in a reply to the original mail
(not this one).
Thank you.
Now, it is clear that this kind of coaching is not going to be for some people. Some people will
want to work through Skype, and some people will want more frequent communication. That’s
fine. You can choose to do that if you wish. I don’t, and it’s not a problem for people because I
don’t pretend to offer anything otherwise at the outset.
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Developing Buy-in
One of the most effective forms of buy-in is the simplest - making people pay for your service.
Dieting isn’t easy, and when things get tough you want them to have a reason to push through.
In a bid to compete with other coaches and seem more attractive to potential clients I see
people offering a money back guarantee. I think this is a huge mistake. For the client, you
immediately take this commitment tool away from them, and I struggle to think of anything
more destructive to someone’s chances of success than this. For yourself as a coach also it’s
important to realise that though you can lay the plans carefully for someone and do your best
to coach people through things, you cannot make someone do the work. You still deserve to be
paid for your work though.
Again, be up front about this with people. I have my terms and conditions publicly on the site,
and in an e-mail before we agree to work together. - People will respect this openness rather
than be put off by it.
Reviews - To Be Valued, Never Feared
As coaches, sometimes we have to advise people to do something that they don’t want to do but
which is best for them at the time. Some people are not going to react well to this, regardless of
how carefully we explain it. You need to be strong and hold your ground - your job is not there
to pander to the client - they are hiring you to make the tough decisions and you need to make
Two common examples of this that can cause friction:
• Insisting that someone go to a doctor to find out what the issue is with their shoulder rather
than “working around it.”
• Deciding that it would be best for the client to take a diet and/or training break.
Now, if making these decisions that are absolutely right for the client leads to them getting
angry and threatening to write a bad review about you somewhere, then so be it. - You can do
your best to try and filter out the hot-heads in your client intake procedure, but this is going to
happen from time to time and you can’t allow yourself to be held ransom to the threat of them.
I would actually go as far as to say that if you haven’t had one on an internet forum somewhere
then you probably aren’t doing your job right (read: in a responsible manner), or simply haven’t
worked with enough people yet.
There is nothing that you can do directly about this, there is plenty that you can do about it
indirectly though:
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• Have your clients write testimonials about your service on the coaching application page
on your website. Don’t edit them, just leave them as they are. People like to read things from
someone like themselves. You want people to sound natural. So instead of asking, “Can you
write me a testimonial?” just ask people in an email before you part ways a few questions
on the service. Then when they write back, ask if you can use what they have written as a
• Even better is to make a results page with photos, if you receive the client’s permission
of course. Just be sure to have the lighting and posing conditions the same so you can’t be
accused of cheating - everyone’s seen dodgy before/after pictures, the results page is one of
the first places that people will click on your site and you don’t want to be mistaken for one
of the many scammers out there before people have gotten to know you.
• Be very careful of exaggeration. Cast away the rest of the industry’s seeming need
for pretentiousness or you’ll attract people that are attracted to such hyperbole. Be
straightforward, down to earth and honest in your writing and all your dealings with people,
and you will attract such people.
By way of example, if people come across a bad review of me somewhere, they have to weigh
that against the 100+ customer before/after photos, the 400+ testimonials, and the 15,000+
comment answers I’ve given over the last four years. By doing this I’ve made it exceptionally
hard for anyone to conclude that I am a man that doesn’t care about people or know what he is
talking about. Do the same and these will build up over time and people will come to their own
conclusions about you.
Everyone understands that there are unreasonable people in the world because we have to deal
with them every day at work - people will recognise this so don’t worry about it.
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Some Credits and Thank You's
Thanks to Greg Nuckols, Mark Smith, Jonathan Dao and Alex Hormozi for reading through the
draft versions of this, pointing out some technical mistakes and making suggestions on areas for
Thanks to Ajay for putting it into the PDF format.
Thank you to Greg & Lyndsey Nuckols, Dominik Dotzauer & Sol Orwell for believing in me and
encouraging me to do this. Your kindness will never be forgotten.
Most importantly, thank YOU for buying this.
You will be getting all future versions of this book for free. I care about your opinions on how I
can improve it.
If you can spare two minutes, your answers will help me to make this guide awesome as I tweak
and build it over the coming months and years. Straight talk is appreciated.
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