Creating a Healthy Lifestyle | Training | Erin Stern

Posted on February 14, 2018 at 12:00 AM

There are so many short-term programs that can help us see results in weeks. But, what comes after that? Usually, the “diet switch” is turned off, and we’re primed for a rebound. Let’s focus on the factors for long-term success in training. In this blog, I’ll go over my favorite training techniques to help you stay lean year round. In the following blogs, we’ll go over meal planning techniques, mindset, and goal setting. With these tools, you will be able to enjoy a level of maintenance lean without having to count calories and without feeling deprived. Here are my top five training tips:

Compound Movements

When planning workouts, opt for compound movements over isolation movements. Compound movements are exercises where more than one joint is moving. Some examples are rows, pull downs, bench press, squats, leg press, and deadlifts. Even if you have a designated “arm day”, you can do chin ups and close-grip bench press. 

Compound movements burn significantly more calories than isolation movements. By combining opposing muscle groups into supersets, you’re essentially able to get a cardio workout without hitting the treadmill! Some examples of opposing muscle groups are back/chest, biceps/triceps, and quads/hamstrings. 

Timed Recovery

If your goal is to maintain muscle and stay lean, I think it’s important to keep an eye on recovery between sets. On heavier training days, one minute between sets is a good goal to shoot for. This will allow you enough time to recover for the next set, but will also keep your heart rate elevated. If you’re lifting lighter weights, 30-45 seconds is a good goal to aim for. 

In my training, I wear a digital watch with a stopwatch. This is very helpful for becoming aware of the time taken between sets.

True HIIT (high intensity interval training)

True HIIT, or all out sprints, are a great way to stay lean year round. This is more intense than interval training, where intervals are done with set recovery time between. True HIIT is anywhere between 6-20 seconds of all out effort, and recovery time varies. I aim to get my heart rate up to 80% of max (approximately 220-age), and sprint again when my heart rate falls to 60% of max (approximately 220-age). 

True HIIT can be done on any piece of equipment you can go “all out” on – elliptical, rower, resistance band sprints, in the pool, or on a steep incline on the treadmill. Of course, you can also do traditional sprints. 

Complexes, Circuits, Metabolic Work

Complexes are a series of exercises that are completed in succession, usually with a barbell or dumbbells. Choose 3-5 exercises that you can do with the bar, and complete 5-10 reps of each. Take no rest in between exercises. Some examples include hang cleans, military press, upright rows, RDLs, front squats, rows, and front rack lunges. 

Circuits are 4 or more exercises done in succession. This is great for upper or lower body training days. You can also complete a circuit using just body weight. This makes it ideal for those who travel a lot or who train at home. 

Metabolic work is the combination of weighted and body weight exercises. For these, I aim for 15-20 minutes of “work”, where I’ll do 2 minutes of exercises, followed by 2-4 minutes of rest. Some exercises include the sled, tsunami ropes, farmer’s carries, bear crawls, burpees, and other body weight exercises. This can be a great finisher to a weight-training workout, as it burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. 

Active Rest Days/NEAT

The real key is to get moving and stay moving. On days off, go for an easy walk or bike ride. Be aware of your NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Simply put, this is the amount of calories you burn just by doing stuff! The average person can burn 600-1000 extra calories a day, just by being active. So, take the stairs, have a little dance party while you vacuum the house, or set an alarm to get up and move every 45 minutes at work. Every little bit counts!

One of my favorite tools for staying lean is to train with PEAK ATP. It helps me get more reps when training. More volume equals more calories burned! I love it!

Thank you for reading – until next time, train hard, y’all!

Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia


Congratulations on your weight loss progress! It is possible to gain muscle while losing body fat. Meals need to be timed properly to insure muscle gain. So, your pre- and post-workout nutrition need to be paid attention to. Aim for around 30g of protein and 30 grams of carbs before and after training. This helps fuel your training and helps fuel recovery. Supersets work great for gaining muscle and losing fat. For example, dumbbell rows and dumbbell bench press can be combined. One muscle group works while the other rests, but your heart rate remains high. You'll get the benefits of lifting weights and the benefits of cardio! Don't forget to take your PEAK ATP before training, as this will help you get more volume in your training and give you a bit more energy throughout the workout. Both are helpful for gaining muscle!
Erin Stern | 1/30/24 at 1:25 AM
As a 46 y.o. female that just started weight training two years ago after loosening 80 lbs. I find I’m stuck between wanting to loose a few more pounds verses muscle growth. You see at my very heaviest 10 years ago I was 320 lbs....so in total have lost over 120 lbs...now I am combating the loose skin verses the continued weight loss battle....I have gained considerable strength and totally transformed my body but wanting to add more muscle while continuing to shed. Suggestions?
Juanita | 1/30/24 at 1:25 AM
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