Most people enter into the training world or onto a new training program wanting to simply build a better body. They want to build a better body, but a better body to them does not mean that they want to build a bodybuilders body. However, the program they implement, whether they receive it from their personal trainer or create it themselves, most often than not is based around old school bodybuilding type programming.
Training with a bodybuilding style program is not going to be effective for the majority of the population, especially the non-chemically injected portion of the population.
So what do most people who want to build a better body really want to achieve? For most, it will mean losing excess body fat, and for some, it will also mean adding some extra muscle to their frame.
FASTER Fat-Loss Please!
Traditionally training for fat loss is a rather slow and time-consuming process. In general people associate fat loss with long drawn out exercise and calorie deprivation. If you perform long, drawn out exercise then your results are going to be exactly that, DRAWN OUT!
Have you ever wondered what you can do to SPEED UP and accelerate the fat loss process? Have you ever stopped to think about the training methods you use and if what you are doing is responsible for the lack of progress or the slow progress you are making?
Take a look at what you are presently doing in your training. Is the majority of the work you do performed slow and stationary? Do you lift SLOW and move SLOW? Maybe if you started to add a little speed training into your training program you would start to see your fat loss results ACCELERATE!
I come from an athletic training background and have observed that the leanest athletes spend the majority of their training time performing activities, which require them to train with intensity and move their bodies or body parts at high speeds. Even when they do slower activities, such as static type lifts in the gym, they will still aim to explode the weight up, or they may do some explosive exercise afterwards. They will rarely be found training using slow movements.
An athlete’s sport requires them to be fast and dynamic, so they need to train in a similar manner, they need to be specific with the training they perform. It is this method of training that yields the lean bodies they possess.
You should take the same approach when it comes to accelerating your own fat loss results. Don’t do too much slow stuff, think of it like this, SLOW MOVEMENT = SLOW PROGRESS. A Study carried out recently found that 2 groups of subjects lifted their calculated %’s of their 1 rep max (1RM) for the SAME amount of volume of training. One group lifted at a fast tempo (2-0-X) the other group lifted at a slow tempo 2-0-2. The Results indicated that the ‘Fast’ group had a significantly greater elevation in metabolism 5, 10 and 30 minutes post exercise. (Mazzetti, 2007) Burning fat while I’m at home laying on the couch? Sounds amazing!
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should perform every single exercise as fast as possible or that you should sprint about the gym like you are Usain Bolt (Fastest man on the planet). It simply means that you need to start incorporating some exercises and or training routines that will either require you or encourage you to move your body or body parts fast. Just as athletes are told to think fast and train fast if they want to be fast, we are telling you to Train FAST if you want to get LEAN FAST!
Aerobic Exercise Is LIMITED, Especially For FAT LOSS!
Why is this important? AEROBIC exercise is limited; in other words, once oxygen becomes limited, you are no longer doing aerobic activity. While cardiovascular exercise is maintained as long as the muscles of the body are working, aerobic exercise by its very nature must be done at a low enough intensity to ensure adequate oxygen consumption. Here’s the problem. In order for the body to get leaner, it must be continually challenged with increasing intensity. Aerobic exercise has a built-in intensity ceiling and therefore, becomes a limiting factor for adaptation. Now, if you are looking to get lean it makes sense to put demands on the muscle and get it to burn calories. Does 15 minutes jogging followed by 30 minutes on the crosstrainer sound familiar? What if I was to say that you could divide it by 3 and get 2-3 times the benefit?
If you train at steady-state intensities and perform typical endurance type activities you will do exactly that; increase your endurance! This equates to you utilizing energy more economically, increased running economy and lower resting metabolic rate. In other words you just made it HARDER for yourself to burn off that same amount of energy in your next session. WELL DONE! Well done if you are training for an endurance event. Not if you want to look and feel lean and athletic. Do you think a sprinter or pole vaulter EVER goes for a long slow run? Of course they don’t, not only is it useless to them, it’s counterproductive!
ANY exercise initiates a stress response from the endocrine system; cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that will break down muscle and fat for use as energy. Aerobic exercise, by its very nature never allows the body to reach the intensity required to release growth promoting testosterone and HGH and continually exposes the body to unopposed cortisol, which makes fat loss more difficult and muscle wastage an easier option for the body. High intensity training, will also release this cortisol but it will also release muscle protective HGH and testosterone. When testosterone and HGH are present with cortisol, fat storage is blocked and the three hormones together AMPLIFY fat burning. This scenario results in Fat loss, not muscle loss and definitely not weight gain. So you see, stress hormones in high amounts are appropriate when they act with the growth hormones of the body. Stress hormones cannot lead to fat gain and aging when they are followed by high intensity activity. In the natural world, stress leads to increased availability of sugar, which leads to the ability to fight or flee.
Actually, here’s a quick question for you. Who’s generally leaner and reaches lower bodyfat levels, sprinters of distance runners? DISTANCE RUNNERS, Ehhhh wrong answer! Distance runners are lean, there’s no doubt about that, but they are not leaner than most sprinters, they are simply skinnier. Becoming skinnier should never be your goal, becoming leaner, holding onto your muscle and burning off the excess fat, is what you should always be aiming for.
Train Metabolically For Fat Loss, Not Aerobically!
Research has shown that it is not just what happens DURING exercise, but also what happens AFTER exercise that makes a difference. Have you ever walked up a large hill? (I certainly hope so) When do you breathe the hardest during the activity? It’s not until you reach the top of the hill that your body really begins to gasp for air. In exercise research, this is known as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption).
ABE (After Burn Effect) as Ian likes to call it, ahem NERD! Haha. It basically refers to a physiological elevation in metabolism. This is why you need to ‘Think OUTSIDE The Workout’. The exercise routines or training protocols you use must have a POSITIVE impact on your metabolism not just during the activity but after the completion of the activity also.
We always like to bring adaptations back to evolution. When our ancestors had to kill their dinner or avoid being eaten, their level of fitness and the capacity to adapt determined success or failure, life or death! Every time he missed a kill or barely escaped being dinner, his body got leaner, faster, and stronger in order to survive.
Okay so we know that interval training (alternating between high-intensity and easy recovery periods) helps your heart work more efficiently and burns calories in record time. Don’t we? New research from the University of Guelph in Ontario shows that it also increases the amount of fat you burn during your OTHER workouts too. In the study, women cycled for four minutes at 90 percent of their max, rested two minutes, and repeated the pedal/rest interval nine more times. After doing these hour-long workouts (called HIT for high-intensity training) every other day for two weeks, the women used 36 percent more fat for energy during a low-intensity 60-minute ride than they did before the study. Intervals improve your ability to use fat for fuel. This does not mean you have to do 60 minute interval sessions on the stationary bike. It means that if you replace your typical cardio session with a HIT routine, you’ll amp up the fat burning effect of your lower-intensity workouts, too.
EXIT The “Fat Burning Zone” Now!
I know what the HIT skeptics are saying ‘but you have to work in the ‘fat burning zone’ well we’re telling you to exit the fat burning zone immediately! >30% max HR work is not only time-consuming and counter productive its BORING!! And not only is it boring but the very nature of aerobic exercise is to increase endurance. . if you increase endurance you also become more economical with substrate (fuel) and this, ladies and gentlemen, means the hour on the treadmill you did last week is going to burn a hell of a lot fewer calories than the hour you did last month! Your body has simply done as it’s told and devised a way for you to complete the hour session without burning as much energy. It’s a survival mechanism and it’s VERY efficient!
Not only will your body adapt in the short-term but it will also adapt to it in the long-term. Your body also becomes accustomed to the movement pattern you have been doing and adapts accordingly! If I told you to carry a large box from one side of the room to the other would you a) pick it up in one hand and hold it over your head or b) bend your knees squat over the box and carry it close to your center of gravity? The second one right? You would make it easy for yourself! That is exactly what your body does. Your metabolism knows exactly what demands are being placed on it and exactly what muscles are firing and can coordinate them accordingly. Make it easy for itself!! With the ultimate result of reducing the net amount of energy as the workout goes on. Energy production is NOT linear doing cardio!
ALL fat loss training protocols should have a ‘METABOLIC’ component to them. For example; resistance training plans attack the muscle and muscle is metabolically active. When you attack your muscles via resistance training the muscle fibers become damaged (tiny microscopic tears) and they need time and energy to repair and grow back stronger. This repair process is costly and heightens metabolism! Circuit training and interval training protocols have an even bigger metabolic emphasis. Their primary function, along with conditioning, is to cause EPOC or the desired after burn effect! Turning your body into a fat burning furnace!
In How To Build A Better Body – Part 2 we will address how to train for increased muscle gain.