It’s May 1st and beautiful here in Maryland! It is also day one of our 90 day DIY Fitness Program! I am super excited to get started on this and hope that you will be able to benefit from it. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns along the way. I am always happy and excited to answer any questions.
168 hours in a week. 24 hours in a day. 60 minutes in an hour. 60 seconds in a minute. Time is often a limiting factor when it comes to exercise. We have all made excuses on not being able to get in a workout because of time. Most of us only have the ability to get in 3-4 workouts a week. With that being said, how do we maximize fat loss? With all my clients I follow the Hierarchy of Fat Loss which was created by Alwyn Cosgrove of Results Fitness. This is the perfect time for you to change it up! If you are doing what you have always done, you are going to get what you’ve always got!
Hierarchy of Fat Loss
1. Correct Nutrition- You can not out-train a crappy diet. You have to create a calorie deficit while eating enough protein and healthy fats.
2. See #1– Yes it is that important. Correct nutrition is important and effective to leading you to your ultimate goal.
3. Activities that burn calories, maintain/promote muscle mass, and elevate metabolism
I think it’s fairly obvious that the bulk of calories burned are determined by our resting metabolic rate or RMR. The amount of calories burned outside of our resting metabolism (through exercise, thermic effect of feeding, etc.) is a smaller contributor to overall calories burned per day.
We can also accept that RMR is largely a function of how much muscle you have on your body — and how hard it works. Therefore, adding activities that promote or maintain muscle mass will make that muscle mass work harder and elevate the metabolic rate. This will become our number one training priority when developing fat loss programs.
4. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism
The next level of fat loss programming would be a similar activity. We’re still looking at activities that eat up calories and increase EPOC.
EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) is defined scientifically as the “recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels” and “can require several minutes for light exercise and several hours for hard intervals.”
Essentially, we’re looking for activities that keep us burning more calories after the exercise session.
5. Activities that burn calories but don’t necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism
This is the “icing on the cake” — adding in activities that’ll burn up additional calories but don’t necessarily contribute to increasing metabolism. This is the least effective tool in your arsenal as it doesn’t burn much outside of the primary exercise session.
Five Factors for Fat Loss Training
1. Metabolic Resistance Training
Basically we’re using resistance training as the cornerstone of our fat loss programming. Our goal is to work every muscle group hard, frequently, and with an intensity that creates a massive “metabolic disturbance” or “afterburn” that leaves the metabolism elevated for several hours post-workout.
A study to support this:
Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM.
Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002 Mar;86(5):411-7. Epub 2002 Jan 29.
This study used a circuit training protocol of 12 sets in 31 minutes. EPOC was elevated significantly for 38 hours post-workout.
Thirty-eight hours is a pretty significant timeframe for metabolism to be elevated. If you trained at 9AM until 10AM on Monday morning, you’re still burning more calories (without training) at midnight on Tuesday.
2. High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training
The second key “ingredient” in fat loss programming is high intensity interval training (HIIT). If you have ever attended my Fit 4 Life class or Bridal Bootcamp at Sport Fit in Severna Park you know what this is. It burns more calories than steady state and elevates metabolism significantly more than other forms of cardio. The downside is that it flat-out sucks to do it!
The landmark study in interval training was from Tremblay:
Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C.
Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism.
Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8
This study pitted 20 weeks of endurance training against 15 weeks of interval training:
Energy cost of endurance training = 28661 calories.
Energy cost of interval training = 13614 calories (less than half)
The interval training group showed a nine times greater loss in subcutaneous fat than the endurance group (when corrected for energy cost).
Read that again. Calorie for calorie, the interval training group lost nine times more fat overall. Why? Maybe it’s EPOC, an upregulation of fat burning enzyme activity, or straight up G-Flux. If the interval training group had lost the same fat as the endurance group, we’d get the same results in less time. That means interval training is a better tool in your fat loss arsenal.
3. High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training
The next tool we’ll pull out is essentially a lower intensity interval method where we use aerobic intervals.
Talanian, Galloway et al
Two weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women.
J Appl Physiol (December 14, 2006). doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01098.2006
This study looked at high-intensity aerobic interval training and its influence on fat oxidation. In summary, seven sessions of HIIT over two weeks induced marked increases in whole body and skeletal muscle capacity for fatty acid oxidation during exercise in moderately active women. In layman’s terms, the interval work appeared to “upregulate” fat burning enzymes.
Basically this means we can burn more fat in other activities as a result of this inclusion. In other words, we get some more bang for our buck.
4. Steady State High Intensity Aerobic Training
Tool number four is just hard cardio work. This time we’re burning calories — we aren’t working hard enough to increase EPOC significantly or to do anything beyond the session itself. But calories do count. Burning another 300 or so calories per day will add up.
5. Steady State Low Intensity Aerobic Training
This is just activity, going for a walk in the park, etc. It won’t burn a lot of calories; it won’t increase muscle or EPOC. There isn’t very much research showing that low intensity aerobic training actually results in very much additional fat loss, but you’re going to have to really work to convince me that moving more is going to hurt you when you’re in fat attack mode.
Putting It Together
You’ll notice that this is perhaps the opposite recommendations from what you typically read in the mainstream media. Usually fat loss recommendations start with low intensity aerobics, progress to high intensity aerobics, then intervals. Finally, when you’re “in shape” they recommend resistance training.
My approach to massive fat loss is attacking from the complete opposite of the norm. A “real world” client with a job and a family can rarely afford additional time; therefore, we need to look at our training in a more efficient manner and focus on our time available first, then design our programming based on that.
If you have 3 hours per week, use only #1 above: metabolic resistance training
This can be three, one-hour training sessions, or four 45-minute training sessions. It doesn’t seem to matter.
However, once you’re getting three hours per week of total body resistance training, in my experience I haven’t seen an additional effect in terms of fat loss by doing more. My guess is that, at that point, recovery starts to become a concern and intensity is impaired.
This type of training involves barbell complexes, supersets, tri-sets, circuits, EDT work, kettlebell combos, etc.
If you have 3-5 hours, use #1 and # 2: weight training plus high intensity interval work
At this point, any additional work is usually in the form of high intensity interval training. I’m looking to burn up more calories and continue to elevate EPOC.
Interval training is like putting your savings into a high return investment account. Low intensity aerobics is like hiding it under your mattress. Both will work, but the return you get is radically different.
If you have 5-6 hours available, add #3: aerobic interval training
Aerobic intervals wins out at this point because it’s still higher intensity overall than steady state work so it burns more calories. There appears to be a fat oxidation benefit and will still be easier to recover from than additional anaerobic work.
If you have 6-8 hours available, add #4
If you’re not losing a lot of fat with six hours of training already, then I’d be taking a very close look at your diet. If everything is in place, but we just need to ramp up fat loss some more (e.g. for a special event: a photo shoot, wedding, etc.) then we’ll add in some hard cardio — a long run or bike ride with heart rate at 75% of max or higher.
Why not do as much of this as possible then? Well, the goal is to burn as many calories as we can without negatively impacting the intensity of our higher priority activities.
If I have more time than that, I’ll add # 5
I think I’m getting into fairytale land at this point. I don’t think most of us have more than eight hours of training time available per week. But if we do, this is when any additional activity will help to burn up calories, which is never a bad thing.
That’s the key with the addition of this activity: just to move, get your body moving, and burn up some additional calories — but not to work so hard that it inhibits recovery and negatively affects our other training.
Keep in mind that all I’ve said here is that harder training works better than easier training. It really is that simple.
Summer is almost here and maybe your wedding too. Remember to attack your body fat with a massive action plan for the next 90 days! Stay tuned for workout plans!
© 1998 — 2007 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.