You One Thing You Need to Burn Fat

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In the training world we have a saying for losing weight: we call it fat-loss. The goal isn’t necessarily to make the scale dramatically shift one way, although in some cases it does, but we want to burn fat at the highest rate possible. I mean, if you lost 10% bodyfat but only dropped 5 pounds, would you really complain? Would life be so bad with all that tight and firm muscle you had to lug around?

You’ll see the reason for this little triad here in a second. When people want to ‘lose weight,’ they usually eat as little food as possible and try to walk till the soles of their shoes wear out. It’s not exactly a fun way to do things. It will also run its course – after about 4-6 weeks your body will pretty much hit a plateau. You might even end up putting the weight back on.

Shifting our focus to torching bodyfat means there’s an emphasis on insulin sensitivity, retaining muscle mass, and the promotion of healthy hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.

So what’s the fastest way to burn fat? Excluding your diet and just discussing what happens on the training floor, you’ll get the most results when you focus on training volume. Volume refers to the work that you do in a given exercise session. Running 15 miles a week is a higher volume than 5 miles per week. Doing 100 reps in a circuit workout trump’s a 50 set workout. You get the idea.

High intensity training is still needed, but you need to find the sweet spot to where you’re working hard but also putting some time in paying your dues. Workout protocols that only last 4 minutes have been shown to get results – but with different outcomes. What many marketing geniuses leave out is that these short workouts improve cardiovascular health and markers of endurance. That’s all good and dandy if that’s your goal. But weight loss won’t come in 4 minute workouts unless the Titanic was afloat the last time you worked out.

Case in point: a high intense workout regimen was shown to be superior to continuous exercise (think long distance running) in terms of cardiovascular health and reducing abdominal fat (1). Even though the title of the piece refers to exercise as “low volume” the high intensity group had to increase their workout time from 18 to 25 minutes. Through the course of the study they had to do more work.

With my clients, I find that starting at a 15 minute conditioning period works best. Keep in mind that I’m not referring to circuit training but bodyweight protocols, kettlebell movements, sled work, and sprints. So a workout plan would look like this:


Week 1- 15 minutes

Week 2 – 18 minutes

Week 3 – 22 minutes

Week 4- 11 minutes (deload)

Week 5 – 25 minutes

Week 6 – 28 minutes

Week 7- 30 minutes of something new

Week 8 – 15 minutes (deload)

Week 9 – 18 minutes of something new.

[toggle title=”References”]1. Shepherd, SO. Wilson, O.J., et al. “Low Volume High Intensity Interval Training in a Gym Setting Improves Cardio-Metabolic and Psychological Health.” (2015) PLOSONE 10;9 e0139056. doi[/toggle]


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