AMP: Marc Megna's 8-Week Aesthetics Meets Performance Trainer, Phase Three -

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Phase Three is the strength phase. Get ready to increase the weight of your compound lifts and push through some tough workouts! Here’s how your weight training, cardio, and nutrition will work for the next two weeks.

In Phase Three, you’re going to make strength gains your priority. You’ll be working toward improving your performance in the primary, compound lifts like the bench press and squat while also doing some aesthetic training with accessory work. This phase brings together the best of both worlds.

You’ve already laid some solid, functional groundwork in the first two phases, so now you’ll be able to increase the weight and concentrate on making impressive gains. You should feel sturdy, confident, and prepared to move forward.

One of the best parts of this phase is that it will carry over to your mental game in a big way. Lifting heavy weight is a challenging endeavor, and can increase your capacity for emotional strength.

In Phase Three, you’re going to start practicing max-effort and dynamic-effort training. On max-effort days, you’ll perform heavy compound lifts at 4 sets of 4 reps. Choose a weight that will challenge you to get that final rep. These heavy lifts will improve your performance and increase your muscle mass. More muscle leads to metabolic changes that will enhance your physique.

On dynamic-effort days, you’ll do those compound lifts with the same rep scheme, but you’ll decrease the load to about 50 percent of your max, and lift with speed. By speed, I don’t mean you should blow through your set as fast as you can. Concentrate on lowering each rep with control, and then lifting with explosive, focused speed. Speed and explosion will help you develop strength and power, which is what we’re after in these last two phases.

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about aesthetics. After you’re done with your compound lifts, you’ll do accessory movements to increase the size and definition of your muscles. All of your accessory lifts will be done at 3 sets of 10 reps.

You’ll do two days of cardio in Phase Three. The first cardio day is a lactate threshold session and the second is a lactate power session. These cardio days are meant to help you do harder work for a longer period of time before you fatigue. You won’t see any cardiovascular improvements if you just go through the motions, so make sure you always push it.

In this phase, I want you to remove at least 80 percent of all processed food from your diet. Processed food is anything in a box, bag, or wrapper that includes extra sugar, preservatives, or other garbage that’s especially hard to digest. It’s also a good idea to eat at restaurants less often.

To help you eliminate processed food from your diet, it’s best to prepare all of your meals at home. That way you know exactly what you put into your body. Restaurants thrive on getting you to eat tasty food so you’ll come back—business first, health second. Your goal is to put your health first. Make health your business.

Before you start Phase Three, mentally prepare yourself to push. You need to truly challenge yourself and make sure that every muscle in your body is being worked. Focus on the contractions and the quality of each movement. Every set should be hard. Demand the most of your loads, your effort, and your consistency. Everything requires a high level of effort from here to the finish line.

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