Strength Training for Fat Loss
The school of thought for fat loss is exercise more, eat less. This “exercise” that most talk about is all cardiovascular based. Meaning: running, circuit training or any other form of super intense exercise to ramp your heartrate up through the roof. Cardio does burn lots of calories (in the short term) and is great to include in your regimen for overall health. UNFORTUNATLY people make money by telling you that exercise always has to be super intense to lose fat and get the body of your dreams. Here’s the truth: cardio is not the best for sustained fat loss and a lean physique for life. Strength training is. Yup, I said it. I’m talking to you too, ladies. Lifting heavy weights and getting strong is the best way to get leaner, speed the metabolism and have healthier hormones.
Strength training is better for a number of reasons. Let’s first talk about intensity. Traditional strength training is a stress to the body. This is how we adapt and change. BUT, recovery (mye-book has a whole section on recovery) has to be on point. If you’re not sleeping well, always super sore and getting crazy cravings, it may be a sign that you’re overtraining. If your training with proper intensity and frequency your biofeedback (learn about biofeedback HERE) will be on point. If you’re following a properly phased strength training program (and your technique is on point) you have a very low risk of overtraining, getting injured and/or harming your nervous system. It is much easier to do too much when you’re only following a cardio based routine. Because running is easy. You don’t have to put much thought into going out for a run or following some crazy at home TV workout. On the contrary, when you lift weights properly you’re actually bullet-proofing your body for future injuries. You’re strengthening your body AND your mind as well. Moreover, you also build muscle, which will allow you to burn more calories while you’re just sitting at your desk. This means you can eat more food and eliminate food relationship issues. When you have more muscle, a faster metabolism and can eat more food, you have a healthier hormonal profile. This means energy, mood, sleep, sex drive and focus will ALL improve. Sounds pretty awesome right?
There’s always lots of talk about the best training split for fat loss. I’ll dive into each of the 4 most common strength training splits.
3x Per Week – Total Body
I absolutely LOVE three-day splits for fat loss. It’s awesome for fat loss because you can train big muscle groups all three days without having tons of volume. This frequent signal you send tells the body that it needs to grow muscle to help with the work it is doing. Three-day splits are great for people who have busy lifestyles with work and family responsibilities.
4x Per Week – Upper/Lower
My personal favorite split is a four-day split consisting of two upper body days and two lower body days. This is a tried and true method of gaining strength and muscle and is widely used by strength and conditioning coaches and trainers alike. I’ve had some of my greatest success personally and with clients training in an upper/lower split fashion.
5x Per Week – Push/Pull/Legs/Upper/Lower
This is probably my 2ndfavorite split. This is great because it really ramps up the frequency and total training volume can be increased. For the more advanced population and people who have more time on their hands, this can be great. For a lot of people, it may be too much gym time based upon lifestyle.
6x Per Week — Push/Pull/Legs/Push/Pull/Legs
When you’re really trying to drive up training volume (which is the key for muscle hypertrophy), a six-day split works wonders. This is quite advanced and is for people who are truly trying to compete in bodybuilding, or just have tons of time on their hands. For most everyday people, this will be challenging to stick with because it requires so much time in the gym.
BOTTOM LINE: It literally doesn’t matter what training split you follow. They will ALL yield results if you’re following them consistently. The one you should do is the one that fits your lifestyle. Period.
The next question that comes into play is exercise selection when trying to lose body fat. This is quite simple. FOUNDATIONAL MOVEMENT PATTERNS. Squat, hip hinge, lunge (single leg variations similar to the lunge), push, pull and carry. Making sure we’re doing these exercises (variations depend on the person and their makeup/movement patterns) is key for seeing fat loss over time. These are the big bang for your buck movements. Things like: barbell squat, goblet squats, romanian deadlifts, barbell/trap-bar deadlifts, split squats, reverse lunges, push-ups, barbell & dumbbell bench presses, TRX rows, face pulls, t-bar rows, farmer walks, planks, sled pushes… the list of exercises could go on and on. Bottom line is finding the optimal exercises for YOURbody type for pain free training. This will ultimately lead to more fat loss, muscle gain and better overall health. This is where hiring a coach comes into play. That way this person knows how you move and can screen these moves to find out which variation works best for you. If you’re interested in coaching, fill out THIS APPLICATION.
The last key for fat loss is daily movement and strategic cardio. I absolutely love NEAT. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Which is basically a fancy term for saying all the movement you do without the intent to exercise. Increasing daily neat can be as simple as taking a 20-30-minute walk daily. If you do this consistently, I promise you will see benefits in recovery, fat loss and overall well-being. But we want to really burn fat. No, we SHOULD NOT be doing HIIT workouts every day. Check out my latest YouTube video HERE about HIIT and the benefits and detriments. This isn’t the best way to lose fat and if taken to far will destroy your nervous system and metabolism making it impossible to recover and even more impossible to lose fat. Instead adding in “finishers” to your workout days are awesome. This could be kettlebell swings 10 rounds for 25 reps with 30 seconds between. Or heavy sled pushes 4-6 rounds of 60 yards. Whatever it is, it’s short and sweet… AND HARD! We want to really challenge our system metabolically. You can also have HIIT on a standalone day, but in my opinion, it’s easier to just knock it out at the end of the workout. This is also very beneficial because then on “off days” you can spend more time on recovery from your training!
If you’re a beginner, the easiest way to go about losing fat and changing your body (and mindset, relationship with food & exercise etc.), is to hire a great coach. Someone who truly wants to see you succeed for the long term. Fill out my coaching application if you’re ready to develop a plan to help you change your life!