If you’re someone who is seeking real fat loss results then you need to be very careful about how you structure your workouts and more importantly, where you get your fat loss workouts from. Unfortunately, many (not all) of the workouts you will see in the popular health and fitness magazines will do very little to meet your specific needs. Most of the workouts in these publications are ineffective and will only generate results for those with superior genetics who experience great results from almost any type of training plan.
It frustrates me when I see overweight individuals in the gym sitting down on the edge of a bench doing bicep curls and triceps kickbacks, when I know they are struggling to see fat loss results. Or, I’ll see females who want to address all of their “trouble spots” so they’ll head straight over to the inner and outer thigh machine, use the total abs machine and perform numerous isolation based triceps exercises in an attempt to address the loose flab of fat that is on the underneath of their upper arm.
I not only see this, but have also had many people come to me for consultations and handed me their workout program they received from the fitness instructor in their club and every one of them will have these types of exercises listed on their routine along with the typical 3 sets of 10 reps.
Stop Targeting Your Muscles and Trouble Spots
The problem with addressing your trouble spots is that these are generally specific sites on the body which contain the smallest amount of muscle and you have to understand that muscle is metabolically active. This means that it is calorically costly for your body to repair muscle tissue. When you train, your muscle fibers get damaged and need to repair themselves and grow back stronger.
Now, think about how much muscle tissue damage is going to take place if you go to the gym and only train your arms and abdominal muscles? Look at the amount of muscle mass in these areas of the body. It’s not a lot, is it? Even if you DESTROY your biceps with every known arm exercise, it doesn’t matter since you’re still only going to stimulate the muscles in that region, unless you do arm curls incorrectly and start arching your back and letting your elbows move forward and away from the body, thus bringing in some shoulder involvement. Always practice strict form and technique at all times!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against isolation based exercises or arm curls. I do all of these types of exercises myself, but you must earn the right to finish off your workout with these movements and most people are too weak in their compound movements (the multi-joint movements such as squats, deadlifts and bench press) to have the right to start arm curling 5 pound dumbbells for 50 reps.
Isolation based exercises should be seen as “supplementary” exercises and NOT “primary” exercises in your training regimen, especially when you’re focused on fat loss.
Start Targeting Your Body’s Metabolic Hot Spots
Okay, so I’ve told you that isolation based routines are not the best plan of attack for fat loss workouts. So, what should you do? Start targeting your metabolism which means focusing your attention on your body’s metabolic hot spots! There are 3 main metabolic hot spots on your body and they are:
- Legs (Lower-Body)
As you can clearly see, these body parts have much more muscle mass than your arms and abdominals. Addressing these regions of the body on a regular and consistent basis will ensure that you take advantage of your metabolism and the calorie expenditure associated with the muscle tissue repair process.
Your metabolism is like a furnace and you want to feed it the right combination of fuel in the form of the right macronutrients along with the appropriate exercises that will not only have an impact on your metabolism during the hour or so you train, but also have a big impact on your metabolism the other 23 hours of the day that you don’t train!
What you could do is devise two separate workouts and then alternate between the two routines, making sure at least one day is given between the sessions. It might look something like this:
- Routine A = Emphasis on Horizontal Pushing and Pulling with Quad Dominant Leg Exercises.
- Routine B = Emphasis on Vertical Pushing and Pulling with Hip Dominant Leg Exercises.
Your weekly schedule would then look something similar to this:
|Training Weeks 1 and 3||Training Weeks 2 and 4|
|Monday = Routine A||Monday = Routine B|
|Wednesday = Routine B||Wednesday = Routine A|
|Friday = Routine A||Friday = Routine B|
NOTE: Horizontal pushing and pulling exercises would be exercises such as bench press, push ups, dips, 1-arm dumbbell rows, barbell rows, cable rows and inverted body rows. Vertical pushing and pulling would be exercises such as the military press, 1-hand dumbbell press, upright rows and chin ups.
Obviously, the number of sets, reps, set structure and rest periods are crucial components to any fat loss regime, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to do 3 sets of 10-15 reps and use really light to medium weights. Mix it up and use different set and rep schemes, but make sure the loads you use are not too light. They should not be too heavy that your technique suffers or too light that a metabolic effect will not be achieved. It’s called resistance training for a reason, so add some weight to that bar!
Additional Exercises and Routines
As I mentioned earlier, I am not against isolation based exercises, so provided you are doing the bigger compound movements and focusing on getting stronger in these movements then it’s okay if you wish to add in a small amount of isolation based work if you like performing these exercises, but realize that you could be spending that time performing some intervals or short duration workout “finishers” which will further stimulate your metabolism and accelerate your fat loss results.
Alternatively, you could perform some intervals on the days in between these resistance based sessions or even do some low intensity and recovery type work. Basically, you want to keep active on the days between your main training sessions.
The Key Takeaway Point
Train your metabolism, not your muscles! Your muscles will be getting trained, but just make sure you are targeting those specific metabolic hot spots frequently and keep the isolation based exercises as supplementary type work and NOT the bulk of your program.