When training to lose body fat, your training program will probably need a bit of an overhaul. At one of the gyms I work at, 90% of the people follow the same weekly structure in a workout – chest/triceps, back/biceps, leg extensions, arms, arms and if they have time on Saturday a little more arms. They then follow this up by an endless amount of time on the elliptical, bike or treadmill. Here are a few quick tips to overhaul your program and start changing your body composition.
Far too often I see people doing the same routine day in and day out – the same weight, reps and order. As Jim Wendler would say, just get strong and the rest will fall into place. Don’t be afraid to get strong, you won’t get “bulky”. Develop some strength in a few core lifts and use big lifts like the squat, and deadlift. (Side note: That big metal contraption in the corner, surprisingly it is designed for squats not just bicep curls so use it well and really take advantage of it.) Focus on getting stronger and moving a more challenging weight. This will cause a greater hormonal response, require you to recruit more muscles and put your body in a much more conducive environment to burn fat. Go heavy (Please remember this is a relative term, don’t kill yourself trying to keep up with somebody else.) on some big movements like your squats, lunges, pull-ups and deadlifts.
Switch up the routine entirely: ditch the body part splits and start training your full body. You will need to adjust your exercises a bit but this change will allow you to focus on the big compound movements that will really give you the response you and your body wants.
Weight training should be your primary emphasis during a fat-loss phase. You burn the majority of your calories while you are just walking around, at work or out on the weekends. In order to make this more efficient we need to put a little bit of muscle mass on you. This raises your resting metabolic rate so that you burn more calories all the time.
Stop distance running to lose fat!
If you really believe that training for that marathon in 4 months will get your body the lean look that you want, stroll down to the next race in your town and look at the competitors. Some will be in shape but chances are, the majority will not fit the body type that most people strive for when it comes spring and summer time. Running for hours on end will cause you to lose too much quality muscle and will stress the body to a high degree. This stress along with losing the muscle mass will slow your metabolic rate and reverse the body composition that you are striving for. If you want to run as your sport, have at it but if you are running to get that sweet, sweet six pack we need to change it up.
For great article discussing the negative effects go to www.charlespoliquin.com and look up “The (Many) Negatives of Aerobic Training”: as always he gives, a very detailed and scientific look into all the negative effects of long duration aerobic training. Charles Poliquin is pretty much THE Man.
Give yourself a couple days of some steady-state aerobic work. I wouldn’t go for long but a good 20-30 minutes will do your body good. The small cortisol release will help to take care of some of the inflammation in your body. These aerobic sessions will help your body recover and directly train your aerobic system. Keeping it at a low volume will not flood your body with the negative effects we want to avoid.
Anaerobic is the hip trend in fitness right now, and it is for a good reason. Focusing on more anaerobic conditioning protocols will lead to a greater decrease in body fat. A strong sprint session out on a track will not burn as many calories as going out and running 10 miles but those calories burned in addition to all the hormonal benefits of anaerobic work lead to a greater decrease in body fat.
Why not stick to an anaerobic dominant protocol?!? It is more time efficient, you lose more body fat, work/maintain muscle more efficient and your aerobic abilities will improve at the same time.
Anaerobic doesn’t have to just revolve around going out and sprinting up stairs and running 40’s. At the end of most of my clients’ sessions we do an anaerobic finisher. These can be anything from sprints in the parking lot and sled pushes (more traditional anaerobic work) or “metabolic medleys”. In these medleys I generally choose a 3-4 exercises and give them timed sets or reps and have them complete it for time. One example of a metabolic medley I may use with a client would be 15 medicine ball slams, 15 burpees and 20 body weight squats. We would do these for time and then adjust the rest period based on their completion of the circuit. I like to keep a good variety in the exercises so that they are able to put forth a high effort with each set and rep.
This is the “duh” portion of the post so I will just throw in a few broad tips:
Throw away the candy, breads and sodas.
Eat as much natural food as you can and avoid the processed foods as much as possible.
Increase your quality protein intake and eat a lot of vegetables.
If you are crushing burgers and beers every night, the gut will remain the same.