Strength Training & Fat Loss: An Upper Body Day

As promised, I wanted to share with you a version of my current training schemes. I explained in my last post that we are working hard to eliminate body fat to bring me down to a very competitive percentage while preserving my muscle mass to present the best physique I can bring to the stage.


A good warm up is important to me. I want to be prepared to train. I want to make sure my CNS is fired, my muscles activated and ready for demand and most important to any prevent injury. Although as important as the rest of the session, if done right, they may not require a tremendous amount of time but they should be thoughtful to your training goals of that day. My upper body and lower body warm ups are VERY different. I have referenced quite a bit the band warm up I use for upper body days and below is a video clip for to help explain.

  • The warm up is designed to bring up my body temperature and prep muscles and movements. It is not supposed to be fatiguing. Choose a band that is moderate for you. We like to use the JC Bands.
  • Five movements, 20 reps per drill, 2 rounds.
  • The movements are: band pulls (hip dominant), row (starting from a bent over lat pull position), tight rotations (both sides), band press, chest fly (letting your shoulder blades retract between each fly).

**Note, when lifting heavy, after the band warm up, we always transition into the working sets with 1-2 sets of build up weight.


Moving on, we start out with strength work. In order to bring out my smaller muscles now, I isolate and pre fatigue my shoulders with a front raise before I hit incline press and isolate and pre fatigue my rear delts before rows.

  • For the smaller muscle groups (front raises and rear delt work), I completed 8-10 reps.
  • Bigger muscle movements (incline press and row), I completed 6-8 reps.
  • Four rounds, a minute between each round.

Strength work complete. On to metabolic conditioning. I mentioned in the last post, we do a variation of a complex every time. These are great for fat loss, they can integrate all muscle groups, elevate your heart rate and the list goes on and on.

  • a complex is a string of exercises back to back without rest inbetween.
  • 6-8 reps of each exercise 
  • go for speed if you can (without compromising form of course)
  • rest 1 minute between rounds
  • complete 3-6 rounds

The following is an example of a complex using dumbbells:

Last and never least! We move on to conditioning. As you know, I focus on upper body oriented conditioning on upper body days to provide my legs with the rest they need to recover. My upper body conditioning recently has been either boxing intervals or a circuit which I have posted in my Strength Training Split, High Rep, Part IV post.


Good Luck!


5 responses to “Strength Training & Fat Loss: An Upper Body Day

  1. Ali-

    I love that you train with Nick! My husband and I train together and I think he is my #1 source of motivation. I am really proud of all your hard work leading up to the Yorton. It will all pay off in November.

    I do have a question regarding your dieting techniques. How has your split changed through out the weeks, any cheat days? And what would you say your average calorie count was each day. These things also come into play when dieting.

    I actually am amazed that you don’t do much cardio. I was the same way with training my first show, but not so lucky for my second.

    Good luck, at this point you are almost there, fight the cravings and get plenty of sleep!!


  2. Hi Terri!! Thanks so much for your positive post!! Will you be attending the Yorton as a spectator this year? I’d love to see you!!

    It is fun to train with Nick because I enjoy his approach to training and both Fitnology and Ground Control as locations to train. I have also enjoyed working with my competition specific trainer for the different personalities, environment and new training styles.

    In general, it’s always helpful when surrounded by positive, supportive and motivating people but especially with the commitment of this sport.

    As for my diet, I have been dieting for about 14 weeks. I took two weeks “off” diet (but still kept competition in mind for maintenence) — those weeks were planned vacations– 1 in August to go on a cruise and another in September to travel to Maui. Other than that, I have taken ONE cheat meal (not cheat day) early in October. It wasn’t worth it to me this time. I have enjoyed the progress so much and didn’t want to arrive at show day feeling like “I could have done this better.”

    My diet has been very tight, honest and consistent. I have stuck to a carb cycle which is carbs every third day. (Carb choices for me are brown rice, sweet potatoes and oat bran). I incorporate some healthy oils, avocado, eggs, raw almonds and natural, salt free peanut butter for my main fat sources (plus whatever is in my protein sources). The rest is a range of clean vegetables and lean meats about every 3 hours.

    Because my body has been responding so well this time, i haven’t done much to doctor my diet much to this point. I have kept it very clean since day one and continue to lose body fat and circumference measurements yet maintain my muscle that it seems to be working for me.

    As for my average calories per day… I would say it’s roughly 1400 on a low carb day and closer to 1600 or 1700 on a HI carb day. I have also been very religious about taking my superfoods, vitamins, post workout shakes, BCAA’s, Fishoils… all the things to help contribute to my health.

    Lastly cardio, people are raising their eyebrows that I “don’t do cardio” … don’t get me wrong, I do complete cardio… just not the loooong slow cardio spent on the tredmill or the eliptical. I do run outside in the morning when I wake up for about 30-35 minutes before I eat about 3-4 times a week. But mostly, my cardio comes from the conditioning we do post strength training.

    Thank you again for your post! I hope I answered most of your questions, feel free to email me again with more!! I’m happy to share my experience and journey. As for the cravings… so little time left and I’m so focused… I’m wondering where they are! Also, most importantly, rest.. I am trying to be in tune with my body, rest as needed and get weekly or bi weekly massages for extra TLC 🙂

    Take care!


  3. Ah!!! at last I found what I was looking for. Somtimes it takes so much effort to find even tiny useful piece of information.
    Nice post. Thanks

  4. By “your conditioning post training” do you mean the running in the am? if so, do you really believe in the fasted state stuff? just curious of the research behind it..thanks, your a wonderful writer and i enjoy your blog

    • Hi Kyle, thanks for your post and question!

      I would do fasted cardio in the morning a few days a week. I do believe this helps me but I don’t overdue the intensity or the duration of time because I don’t want it to become too taxing on my adrenal system. I just do this a few mornings per week to tap into excess fat stores.

      My “conditioning post training” is something I do everytime I train and it’s very different from my morning cardio. I just posted about that in Q&A#2, Part II. Check it out! I hope that helps clarify some.

      Thanks for writing! I’m glad you are enjoying the blog 🙂


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