The formula for fat loss is simple. But then how comes it feels damn near impossible to achieve rapid fat loss?
A caloric deficit through exercise, a sound diet, and healthy hormone levels should incinerate fat off your body to have you looking like a Greek God carved out of stone.
But ask anyone who’s tried to get shredded: it’s brutally hard work.
Problems can arise if an optimal training protocol isn’t in place. Your hard earned muscle can be stripped away, and you can be left with body fat. You could end up thinner, weaker and depleted, rather than athletic and shredded.
Fortunately, there are better options than plodding on the hamster wheel and “toning” your muscles with endless cardio and high rep weight training.
I Call it Blended Training for Fat Loss
By placing an emphasis on heavy strength training with carefully planned density training, you’ll preserve your muscle while incinerating body fat to get absolutely shredded.
The Importance of Training During Fat Loss
The major driver for fat loss is a diet that places you at a caloric deficit.
I’d say your diet is 80% of your fat loss plan.
The sad truth is it doesn’t really matter how hard you’re training if you’re shoving twinkies down your gullet and slamming Vodka red bull all weekend.
All the fist pumping and interval sprints won’t undue that damage. Sorry.
Operating under the assumption that you’re in a caloric deficit and fist pumping is occurring (sans Vodka-Redbulls), time to focus on training for optimal fat loss.
Using advanced math, we assume that if your diet is 80% of the recipe to get shredded, training makes up the other 20%.
“Dude, then why don’t we just focus on diet, the 80%?”
We’re here to kick mediocrity in the teeth. Let’s maximize every component to get you shredded, and that means maximizing your training and diet.
This means we’ll strategically train to preserve lean mass and keep your metabolism running on full-blast to incinerate fat.
Let’s dive into each of these components a little deeper.
Preserve Your Metabolism during a Diet:
I’m sure we can all agree that endless cardio and dieting without and any resistance training is a sure-fire way to end up scrawny without any appreciable muscle mass.
All other things being equal, the more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. That means it’s going to be in your best interest to preserve muscle and thus metabolism to avoid plateaus and achieve rapid fat loss.
By challenging your muscles against resistance, you’ll stimulate greater levels of protein synthesis and muscular damage. As a result, you’ll be directing more of the calories towards muscle repair, further pushing you towards a caloric deficit.
Support a Healthy Testosterone
For simplicity sake, good ole Mr. T is a steroid hormone that stimulates muscle building, fat loss, and sex drive.
Problem is, harsh dieting leads to decreased testosterone levels…unless you do something about it.
By focusing on heavy multi-joint lifts like chin ups, squats, presses, and deadlifts you’ll stimulate the release of testosterone. As we all know, strength training has been proven to induce the release of testosterone, boosting total body anabolism and stimulating muscle retention (Craig et al).
As a result, your resistance training protocols will hold onto muscle and stimulate fat loss simultaneously for maximum results.
Training to Stimulate Growth Hormone Release:
I hate to break it to you, but rapid fat loss gets increasingly difficult as you age. Coupled with massive caffeine intake, alcohol, and our overstimulated high-stress environment, the natural aging process delivers us all a gut punch and naturally decreases growth hormone release as we age.
Obviously, this sucks when trying to stay lean and maximize performance, so we have to take aggressive action to fight back.
Luckily, with proper training will spike that stubborn S.O.B. back up to help you shred fat with specific training protocols.
Metabolic stress is the result of working at a high intensity in training when your body switches to anaerobic metabolism for the delivery in ATP. Basically, those burning reps that make your body feel like it’s ready to explode and your heart is pulsating through your shirt is a sign of metabolic stress.
When you reach this intensity, the breakdown of stored energy releases a dollop of metabolic by-products of energy synthesis and muscle contractions that in turn, causes more stress to your whole body.
While this sounds complicated, it means you should keep rest short and intensity high to the point where you can’t have a conversation without breaking up your words due to a lack of oxygen when training. All these by-products trigger the release of GH and further stimulate fat loss.
Blended Training for Rapid Fat Loss
Training strength first at least once per week stimulates fast-twitch muscle fibers to preserve muscle, charges the nervous system, and supports healthy anabolic hormone levels when you’re in a caloric deficit.
This offsets the catabolism of muscle tissue and keeps your muscle, rather than withering your hard-earned physique away during your cut.
The Best Rep Schemes for Rapid Fat Loss
Weight training for fat loss is predicated on maximizing muscle retention, anabolic hormone levels, and preserving your metabolism. High training density triggers greater caloric expenditure and stimulates the release of growth hormone for rapid fat loss.
Next: how it all ties together.
Once per week I recommend working in a pure strength weight with major, compound movements.
As previously mentioned, heavy strength training is a huge tool to preserve testosterone and muscle mass when dieting down.
Pick one upper and one lower body lift from the following during fat-loss training and make them a focus first thing in 1-2 workouts per week. Rep schemes like 4×4, 5×5, and 6×3 work best.
Upper Body: Overhead press, chin-up, bench press, dip, row
Lower Body: Clean, squat, deadlift, lunge
Ramping up to 2,3,4 5rm (75-95% 1-RM):
Start with a moderate training load for the prescribed number of reps and build your way up (ascending loading) to the heaviest set.
As you increase the load you “charge” the nervous system with consistently heavier loads.
Start with a moderate load and increase the weight by 5-10% each set, aiming to reach your heaviest set in 4-6 sets. Ramping sets work better for advanced lifters as straight sets with heavier loads provide tons of cumulative fatigue.
Density circuits combine compound movement patterns in succession with short rest periods for high intensity, challenge based workouts.
By combining a variety of major movement patterns, all muscles of the body are trained within a short period of time for increased work capacity and rapid fat loss.
1a. [Vertical Pull] Chin Up 4×8 Rest =0
1b. [Vertical Push] DB Push Press 4×10 Rest =0
1c. [Single leg] DB Goblet Lunge 4×6/leg Rest =60-90
2a. [Horizontal Pull] One Arm Dumbbell Row 3×8/arm Rest =60-90
2b. [Horizontal Push] Feet Elevated Push Up 3×15 Rest =0
2c. [Hip Dominant Lower] DB or BB RDL 3×15 Rest =0
2d. [Core] Plank 3×45 seconds Rest =0
One difficulty of note is programming these exercises to avoid cumulative fatigue. You’ll note one-rm rows and RDL’s in the second density circuit. In this case, use wraps and switch grips to minimize grip issues.
How this Works: Hormonal adaptations change based on exercise rest periods. Short exercise rest periods are recommended for muscular hypertrophy exercise protocols because they augment a greater GH response compared to long rest periods (Qaderi et al).
So while longer rest periods are best for nervous system recovery, technique and force development the shorter rest periods (30-60 seconds) are better for burning fat and in some cases, muscle building.
Timed Sets: Perform 3-4 Work Sets of a Given Exercise for 20-45 Seconds
Timed sets are great for burning fat because they require a ton of time under tension, forcing metabolic stress and muscular damage.
As a result, you burn through stored carbohydrates and trigger tons of lactic acid and metabolic by-product build up within muscles, triggering growth hormone release.
The idea is as simple as it sounds. Use a weight you can lift for 12-15 reps to start, and perform reps of an exercise for a time set, starting at 30 seconds and increasing the time by five seconds each week with a work to rest ratio of 1:2.
Exercise: Goblet Squat
Week One: 30 seconds/set Rest: 60 seconds
Week One: 35 seconds/set Rest: 70 seconds
Week One: 40 seconds/set Rest: 80 seconds
Week One: 45 seconds/set Rest: 90 seconds
Time is your progression, not weight.
Rather than focusing on a quantitative outcome (reps), the focus is on the quality of each rep and maximizing a muscle contraction for a set amount of time.
The Low-Down on Blended Training for Rapid Fat Loss
Lift heavy when dieting down once or twice per week. Pick two or three exercises per week during “cut” phases and work to maintain or even build strength numbers to preserve strength and mass.
Then, use density training, and timed sets to stimulate growth hormone release, and improve insulin sensitivity for maximal fat loss.
Although many of these training methods work well for building strength and muscle, this combination is the best I’ve seen and for achieving rapid fat loss.
Craig, BW, Brown R, and J. Everhart. “Effects of Progressive Resistance Training on Growth Hormone and Testosterone Levels in Young and Elderly Subjects.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Aug. 1989. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2796409>.
Qaderi, M., R. Rahimi, and SS Boroujerdi. “Effects of Very Short Rest Periods on Hormonal Responses to Resistance Exercise in Men.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 July 2010. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
Copyright: pjphotography / 123RF Stock Photo