6 Strategies to Maximize Fat Loss Through Strength Training by Devin Gray CSCS
You have been tricked. This may come as a surprise to some, but starvation diets and endless runs on the treadmill are not the crème de la crème of fat loss. In reality, whole-foods based nutrition combined with strength training is the ultimate key to fat loss. Here are 6 strategies to immediately unlock the fat burning potential of your workouts.
1 – You MUST strength train! This is my most successful and most sustainable fat loss training method. The proper exercises will build strength, muscle mass, and cause your metabolism to skyrocket. The method (bodyweight, free weights, kettlebells, TRX, etc.) doesn’t matter, but you must strength train.
Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does. If you examine two people of equal bodyweight, the individual with more muscle mass typically has a faster metabolism… Muscle is also denser than fat, meaning that a pound of muscle takes up less space on your body than a pound of fat. This is critical for avoiding the dreaded “skinny-fat” look.
2 – Choose exercises that use the largest amount of muscle mass. This is one of the simplest tips to implement, but also one of the most overlooked. When fat loss is the goal, the majority of exercises should involve at least two joints. For example: A bodyweight squat uses your knees, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, and trunk muscles. Add weight, and now the squat is a full body exercise. In other words, weighted squats turn your body into a fat burning machine.
Do This, Not That – Fat Loss Edition:
Squats, not leg presses. Lunges, not leg extensions. Deadlifts, not leg curls. Pushups, not triceps kickbacks. Chinups or rows, not biceps curls. Standing shoulder presses, not seated presses or front raises. Free weight anything over machine everything.
3 – Strength training should be challenging. In short, your workouts should always be more challenging than the one before it. Follow this rule within reason, and you’ll maintain progress. Choose one of the following every workout: More sets, repetitions, weight, or range of motion. Less rest periods. More challenging equipment, positions, or exercises.
4 – Train your legs hard and enjoy better bang for your buck. This is really a combination of rules 1 & 2. Multi-joint (compound) leg exercises use plenty of muscle mass, are easily modified, and burn loads of calories. The majority of conditioning complexes are also legs-based. For example, a kettlebell complex that I frequently prescribe involves 5 swings, 5 snatches, 5 cleans, 5 squats, and 5 reverse lunges.
5 – Work harder AND smarter – Maximize your time by alternating lower body exercises with upper body exercises on full body days. For example, perform a set of squats and then immediately perform a set of pushups. Resting 45 seconds and do it again. Your heart and lungs will work harder with the shorter rest periods, while your muscles actually receive double the rest.
6 – Save even more time by minimizing your rest periods. While rest periods are necessary and beneficial, excessive rest periods are counterproductive and wasteful. As most fat loss workouts use lighter weights for higher repetitions (8-15), rest periods ranging from 30-60s are ideal. This is enough time to allow incomplete recovery.
Use these six tips, and I guarantee that you’ll see an improvement in your strength, conditioning, and fat loss.
-By Devin Gray, CSCS. Devin graduated Cum Laude from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Kinesiology. As a certified strength & conditioning specialist, he has helped dozens of people reach a multitude of fitness goals. For more information, he may be reached at [email protected] or contact him here.