Somehow after booming more than 3 decades of fitness industry we are still confused by dogmas and philosophies that leave the average trainee/ gym goer well confused on what their specific goals are and how to get there as fast as possible in the safest possible way. After all isn’t it what everyone would like to know and hear from professionals.
And here is my nail back in the neck of the industry- if you have clear objectives you can achieve them a lot quicker than you think.
What do I mean by that?!
I will explain, some people say that they want to tone up, some people say that they want to lose a bit weight, some people say that they just want to get fit, some people say that they want to get cut for a competition, some people say that they want to get in shape for an upcoming holiday or an event, some people want to get six pack, whatever you say the truth is very simple- EVERYONE IS AFTER SHIFTING THEIR EXCESS BODY FAT AKA FAT LOSS.
There are some amongst us (relatively smaller percentage) that are lean enough and their goals naturally lean towards building more lean muscle but this is beyond the scope of this article. There are some that carry a bit more fat than they would like to but also would like to build muscle. My advice for these enthusiasts is always to get rid of the excess body fat and then keeping lean to start building lean muscle but this is a topic for another post.
The point is that majority of people going to the gym are driven by one emotional desire- GETTING RID OF THE EXCESS BODY FAT.
If you agree with me so far then it is probably worth investing more time to read the rest of this article, if not I would suggest that you go back to your Zumba class. Kidding! I will suggest that you read this article before you continue reading.
Ok, FAT LOSS- What would be the most scientific approach to quickly and safely shift body fat!
Diet and Life style– if someone tells you that you can go out 2-3 times a week and drink or eat your favourite cakes and food but as long as you burn the calories, he or she is only after your money or they don’t have a clue how to train people or the most common scenario when it is combination of the two above. Period! In my modest 11 years of experience in the fitness industry I have never seen or heard of someone who has out trained a bad diet! It is quite the opposite, failure to sustain progress or worst possible scenario, injuries and total burn out!
For more information on fat loss diets please visit my nutrition section of my blog
You will need some form of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)- the science clearly shows that the most effective way to do HIIT for fat loss is by raising your heart rate up to 90% of the Maximum Heart Rate. This could be very taxing on the cardiovascular system so twice a week up to 30 min per session will be enough to stimulate sustainable fat loss results. And this is fine because you will definitely need to make some time to lift weights even if you goal is just fat loss which leads us to our next point.
The most famous and stereotypy objection to weight training is “I don’t want bulk up, I want to lose weight!”. I have only one thing to say to this common false believe, THE ONLY EXCESSIVE BULK IN OUR BODIES COMES FROM EXCESSIVE BODY FAT NOT MUSCLE! Period!
You get rid of the fat and the bulk disappears, simple as that!
Why resistance/weight training? Since this is a big stumbling block for most people I have outlined 17 reasons why weight/resistance training should be essential component of an effective fat loss plan and part of a healthy life style.
You’ll lose 40 percent more fat.
If you think cardio is the key to blasting belly fat, keep reading: When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle.
Other research on dieters who don’t lift shows that, on average, 75 percent of their weight loss is from fat, while 25 percent is from muscle. Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn’t improve your reflection in the mirror and it makes you more likely to gain back the flab you lost.
However, if you weight train as you diet, you’ll protect your hard-earned muscle and burn more fat.
Your clothes will fit better.
Research shows that between the ages of 30 and 50, you’ll likely lose 10 percent of your body’s total muscle. Worse yet, it’s likely to be replaced by fat over time, says a study. And that increases your waist size, because one pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle.
You’ll burn more calories.
Lifting increases the number of calories you burn while your butt is parked on the couch. That’s because after each strength workout, your muscles need energy to repair their fibers. In fact, researchers found that when people did a total-body workout with just three big-muscle moves, their metabolisms were raised for 39 hours afterward. They also burned a greater percentage of calories from fat compared with those who didn’t lift.
Lifting gives you a better burn during exercise too: Doing a circuit of eight moves (which takes about eight minutes) can expend 159 to 231 calories. That’s about what you’d burn if you ran at a 10-mile-per-hour pace for the same duration.
Weight Training Helps Long Term Metabolic Increases
The second factor to consider in the fat loss wars is long-term metabolic increases. While it’s great to be burning more calories for 39 hours after the workout, that’s not going to help you two weeks from now unless you are consistent with your workout program (which you should be anyway, but that’s not the point we’re trying to make here).
What weight training will enable you to do is build up a larger degree of lean muscle mass, which then basically serves as your calorie burning powerhouse in the body.
When you calculate your basal metabolic rate, which is how many calories you would burn if you lied in bed all day and did absolutely nothing except breath, one of the factors that goes into this is your total body weight. The most accurate equations will also take into account lean body mass, which represents your muscles, bones, and organs.
Holding more muscle will help you to burn more calories during HIIT.
Holding more muscle will make you burn more calories per workout in comparison to a smaller individual who would the same workout- intensity and duration wise.
Resistance training will help you to have more efficient HIIT!
Only well designed resistance training program will help you to get stronger therefore performing any high intensity work either interval training or a crossfit style workout will result in more exertion therefore higher energy output therefore higher lactic acid build per workout therefore a better fat loss effect.
Your diet will improve.
Exercise helps your brain stick to a diet plan. University of Pittsburgh researchers studied 169 overweight adults and found that those who didn’t follow a three-hours-a-week training regimen ate more than their allotted 1,500 calories a day. The reverse was also true— sneaking snacks sabotaged their workouts. The study authors say both diet and exercise likely remind you to stay on track, aiding your weight-loss goals.
You’ll handle stress better.
Break a sweat in the weight room and you’ll stay cool under pressure. Scientists determined that the fittest people exhibited lower levels of stress hormones than those who hold the least amount of muscle. Another study found that after a stressful situation, the blood pressure levels of people with the most muscle returned to normal faster than the levels of those with the least muscle. How this impact fat loss? Better HPA axis control thus better “flight or fight” response. Therefore better cortisol management.
Cortisol is a stress hormone and its function is to help us to deal and recover from stressful situations. While this might be a good think from time to time, it has been scientifically proven that low chronic elevation of cortisol causes inflammation and oxidative stress and it is one of the main culprits for obesity in the modern world.
Weight Training Promote Anabolic Hormonal Enviroment
Another difference between weight training and cardio training is the type of hormonal environment they promote. Weight training tends to put the body in an anabolic state and encourages muscle mass gain (if eating a higher calorie diet, which won’t be the case when you’re aiming for fat loss) or muscle maintenance (which is applicable here).
Cardio training, on the other hand, promotes higher levels of cortisol release, and this is the primary hormone that does encourage lean muscle mass loss, as well as fat accumulation around the abdominal region.
You’ll be happier.
Yoga isn’t the only Zen-inducing kind of exercise. Researchers found that people who performed three weight workouts a week for six months significantly improved their scores on measures of anger and overall mood.
You’ll build stronger bones.
As you age, bone mass goes to pot, which increases your likelihood of one day suffering a debilitating fracture. The good news: A study found that 16 weeks of resistance training increased hip bone density and elevated blood levels of osteocalcin—a marker of bone growth—by 19 percent.
You’ll get into shape faster.
The term cardio shouldn’t describe only aerobic exercise: A study found that circuit training with weights raises your heart rate 15 beats per minute higher than if you ran at 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate. This approach strengthens muscles and provides cardiovascular benefits similar to those of aerobic exercise— so you save time without sacrificing results.
Your heart will be healthier.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who did three total-body weight workouts a week for two months decreased their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by an average of eight points. That’s enough to reduce the risk of a stroke by 40 percent and the chance of a heart attack by 15 percent.
You’ll be way more productive.
Lifting could result in a raise (or at least a pat on the back from your boss). Researchers found that workers were 15 percent more productive on days they exercised compared with days they didn’t. So on days you work out, you can (theoretically) finish in eight hours what would normally take nine hours and 12 minutes. Or you’d still work for nine hours but get more done, leaving you feeling less stressed and happier with your job—another perk reported on days workers exercised.
You’ll live longer.
University of South Carolina researchers determined that total-body strength is linked to lower risks of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Similarly, other scientists found that being strong during middle age is associated with “exceptional survival”, defined as living to the age of 85 without developing a major disease.
You’ll be even smarter.
Muscles strengthen your body and mind: Brazilian researchers found that six months of resistance training enhanced lifters’ cognitive function. In fact, the sweat sessions resulted in better short- and long-term memory, improved verbal reasoning, and a longer attention span.
Resistance Training Improves Flexibility.
An extensive search of scientific literature review failed to turn up any studies where strength training was actually pitted against stretching to see which better improves range of motion.
So the researchers compared the two techniques’ effect on flexibility of different muscles and joints in 25 college-age volunteers.
Participants were randomly assigned to strength training or stretching programs focusing on the hamstring muscles and hip, shoulder, and knee muscles and joints for five weeks. As a comparison group, 12 other students engaged in neither type of exercise.
Tests of flexibility and strength at the end of the five weeks showed:
- Both stretching and strength training performed equally well at improving hamstring flexibility, and both were superior to no exercise.
- Resistance training was superior to no intervention at improving hip flexibility, but stretch training was no better than doing nothing.
- There were no differences between the groups when it came to shoulder extension flexibility.
- Resistance training was superior to no intervention at building knee strength.
The findings were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Baltimore.
I hope that I am giving you so far some useful information that will help you to form your fat loss strategy but here is the confusion, how come the fitness industry has come up with so many ways to promote exercises when you only need HIIT and Weight Training- a class for toning up, a class for strength, a class for speed, a cross fit class to shed a few pounds, a bar class, Zumba class, boxing class, tai boxing class, MMA class, strongman class, bla bla?
Well, I think all these classes have been invented with one intention- to engage people in a more fun and exciting way to exercise. While I can understand this and encourage the fun part in training though I think this now has gone too far and it is deceiving the average fitness enthusiast who is really serious about getting results.
Everything starts from creating and adopting wrong philosophies and believe systems and this is entirely our precious fitness industry’s fault! The confusion starts with the one and very wrong believe that to lose weight you have to be engaged in activities that burn calories by raising one’s body temperature and heart rate.
Where this has got some truth to it, as previously discussed it will need to be very HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING or aka HIIT as just burning calories it will not do the job! Research clearly shows that activity that raise one’s heart rate up to 90% of their respective maximum heart rate for 20-30 min 2 times a week are far superior than low intensity activity performed for long duration. This is due to something called EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). Your body continues to burn calories hours after your training for hours and this is how you get the fat loss response from the workout! So if you decide to lower the intensity and extend the time of your workout in order to burn the same amount of calories as you would with high intensity and shorter duration, it will be totally useless for fat loss although the number of calories burned is the same.
So based on those conclusions we can say that the fitness industry has somehow managed to provide lots of option for the HIIT part of our fat loss strategy, some more effective than others and some completely useless.
What do I mean by that?
All the classes on the time table in the fitness clubs are designed to cater and provide only one form of training- HIIT! Research does not specify states what and how is more effective to raise the heart rate up to 90% of the maximum as long as you manage to do it somehow. So I have a question for you, which class is better HIIT form of training, Spin, Insanity, kettlebell, Grit, Body Combat, Boxing?!
They all do one simple job- to provide you with a fun to you option to raise your heart rate! Period!
What about Crossfit , Body Pump and Grit Strength, strongman trainng,ect?
I classify them as another form of HITT training as they fail to overload the muscles in correct and progressive manner. They all are very random with a lot of explosive movements (body weight and Olympic lifts) that can only raise one’s heart rate but have no effectiveness as progressive well designed resistance training. Most of the exercises in those classes and especially the Olympic lifts variations are great for developing explosive power for athletes (and very bad idea for novice trainee) but they are useless for stimulating the muscles effectively for fat loss, why? Simple, they don’t have an effective eccentric movement (lengthening the muscles under tension aka lowering phase of an exercise) which in combination with concentric movement (shortening the muscles under tension aka lifting phase of an exercise) stimulates the right hormones for fat loss- GH (growth hormone), testosterone and IGF-1. For this to happen you will need to isolate the muscles groups and provide a sufficient overload with a small incremental progression on weekly basis.
Why am I telling you all this? What about resistance training as it is very important part of fat loss strategy? Clearly I am trying to make a very important point- no matter what class the fitness industry will come up with, it is more likely that this class will have only one purpose- TO RAISE YOUR HEART RATE BUT NOT WORK YOUR MUSCLES ENOUGH TO GIVE YOU AN EFFECTIVE RESISTANCE WORKOUT! Period!
DIET AND LIFE STYLE changes are paramount to achieving a sustainable fat loss results but some time due to our hectic weekly schedules we will have to make an intelligent choice- are you going to do weight training today or jump around in the studio ( meaning do HIIT).
I will always bet on the weight training. Ok, you might say “who are you to make such a claim?” but I can proudly say that now at this stage of my career that I finally have a proof. Just go on to my testimonial page and check out all the success stories, none of these people on that page has done any traditional cardio or HIIT training. In fact most of them trained only 3 times a week and all of them achieved what they achieved with well designed weight training protocols for fat loss along with personalised diet plans. For the busy working men and women I use a system that works the muscles effectively enough to be classified as resistance training and it is effective enough to be classified as HIIT training. I was lucky for being introduced the system by the renowned world class coach Charles Poliquin. It is called German Body Composition and has been helping me to get clients and myself quickly in shape!
Let me give you some other examples of professionals that also prove my theory right! Check the testimonials on each site!
And before you give me a verdict “I know for fact that they are using some form of HIIT training”. I can tell you in straight context that all the results of all these people are mainly down to weight training and diet and I urge you to contact them and interview them.
Before I give my general guidelines how to structure a fat loss training regimen I would like to wrap up with a conclusion.
Fitness industry spends gazillion pounds every day to develop new fun ways to create interest and attract new members and then wants you to pay gazillion pounds back so it makes a profit which is fine but only to provide you with a very insignificant part of the fat loss equation- A FUN WAY TO RAISE YOUR HEART RATE!
In my humble opinion, IT IS NOT ENOUGH!
And if you are one of those people that looks at all the arguments and conclusions and turns around and says “Well, some exercise is better than nothing!”, then this blog is not for you yet. You are missing the very important ingredient for success- BURNING DESIRE! I suggest you go back and read my very first article- The Power of clear Goal Setting
Below I have outlined my optimum guide lines how to schedule an effective and sustainable fat loss training plan based on my personal and other professionals’ experience in the industry.
2 times a week resistance training- German Body Composition
2 times a week resistance training once a week HIIT
3 times a week resistance training- German Body Composition
3 times a week resistance training- split into upper and lower body
2 half an hour HITT sessions between resistance training days
Stay tuned for part 2 where I will give an example of German Body Composition training system for novice trainee.
The truth matters!
Live Your True Potential!