Arguably the most common topic I discuss with new members at the gym I operate of is around training for fat loss. Losing weight is easily the most common goal for most people in the gym so this is fair enough.
But my answer is usually met with blank stares and I can only imagine they're thinking 'what the f**k is wrong with this guy'.
Training for fat loss includes building strength, focusing on resistance training primarily, supplementing with cardiovascular training and taking an all body approach.
"Oh so what about long distance cardio? Do I do high reps, low weight?"
The aim of this article is to explain to you the rationale behind why all my clients at Simple Strength when the goal is fat loss, get stronger.
- Stronger people retain more muscle mass
When we lift weights – we create small amounts of muscular damage which creates a cascade of processes one of which is called Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). MPS takes all that chicken, fish, lentils and milk and uses the protein within them to aid in muscle growth and repair. Strength training (that is – intending to lift progressively more and more weight over time) elicits MPS.
When we diet – we lose weight, this consists of fat mass (FM) and lean body mass (LBM). FM is what you think, fat, the energy storage stuff we keep around our bellies. We can get rid of this – we want to get rid of this. LBM is muscle – it's in our best interest to lose as little as possible. Mainly because LBM is one important influencer towards how much food we can eat on a daily basis. Those individuals with higher amounts of LBM generally eat more food.
How much LBM we lose is influenced by our diet and also our training. Diets higher in protein have been shown to aid in maintaining LBM when losing weight. Lifting weights will encourage your body to maintain muscle and this has a number of benefits, which will be covered in this article.
- Cardio only is not the best way to lose weight
Cardio only isn't the best way to lose weight, lifting weights only isn't the best way to lose weight. Doing them together though is, according to the body of research present today. Research has shown that a combined effort of lifting weights and complimenting it with some cardiovascular activity produces the most efficient results when it comes to losing weight.
Here at Simple Strength we start our clients off on predominantly a 80/20 split of weights to cardio. Opting for low intensity cardio options like treadmill walking or cycling to start with. Building up to higher intensity interval work.
We also like to incorporate complexes and increasing the density of workouts through the use of supersets to ramp up the fatigue and elicit fat loss.
Note; you may struggle maintaining strength along the way.
It's important to understand that when you are training for fat loss, it's common for some people to plateau with their strength progress. You see when we lose weight, we need to enter a calorie deficit, which requires us either eating less than our body needs or burning more energy than our body needs. More on calorie deficits and energy balance here.
But with smart programming and listening to your body along the way it is possible to minimise the strength loss and even continue to get stronger. Our new program 'Burn' is designed around losing weight whilst developing strength. Want to find out more? Reach out:
So let's put it all together
Training for fat loss essentially means you're looking to lose fat and minimise muscle loss. To minimise muscle loss you're looking to get stronger and encourage your body to hold onto that sweet, sweet LBM for as long as possible.
Your workouts could mimic the following template.
This could include 1 or 2 main movements that are your strength focus for the session. Usually compound movements like squats, deadlift, bench press, chin ups etc. The goal here is to build your strength over time. Usually lower reps, heavier loads and longer rest.
Next is the accessory block which might comprise of 3-4 exercises that are performed in a superset or tri-set fashion. Usually moderate to higher reps, lighter loads and shorter rest.
Everyone's favourite – the conditioning block. Optional but usually I will finish with some form of conditioning, starting off initially with something lower in intensity like cycling and progressing into more circuits or metabolic work.
Here's an example workout from one of our clients
Wrapping it all up
The above is a small snap shot of a single workout when training for fat loss. Over time you may need to adjust things slightly (reps/sets/weight lifted). I won't get into the nuts and bolts of that as that is a long conversation and that's how I make my money by coaching people through that period.
So, reach out if you'd like to find out more about coaching and we'll see how I can help you train for fat loss. Simply fill out this form and I'll be in touch.
Till next time,