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Is There Such a Thing as Fat Loss Workouts?


Over on the Daily Workout Newsletter, Ive been discussing fat loss workouts a lot, and I realized this would likely make for an insightful blog for everyone. Fat loss workouts always have to be prefaced with the necessity of diet. You cannot perform workouts by themselves and expect them to deliver any dramatic results. Professionally, at one time I was very hyped up on the fat burning potential of training. What I learned over time though was that there was much nuance than just finding really hard workouts to have people do I eventually arrived at these The 10 Almost Rules of Fat Loss Workouts

  1. Fat loss workouts only work if there is a calorie deficit
  2. If the calorie deficit is too dramatic, the workouts hurt more than they HELP
  3. Fat loss workouts work better on short to moderate term diets, when the calorie deficit is no greater than 20% below maintenance
  4. Once an energy deficit dips below 20%, daily energy drops dramatically. Going from 2,500 to 2,000 for example, and then below that, an individual is simply not going to have the energy to maximize the effects from the workout
  5. Because the metabolic cost of the workouts are high, they can be catabolic, and literally EAT away muscle tissue. They either need to be regressed to be easier, or cardio should be changed to less intense steady state
  6. If incorporating high-intensity fat loss workouts while dieting, and having regular resistance training on top of it, protein intake is of paramount concern. INCREASE protein intake to 1.25 grams per pound of bodyweight.
  7. Fat loss workouts are most effective when they are most difficult and the body has not yet adapted to doing them. Hence they should be changed often in order to ensure maximum metabolic effect
  8. When determining what to do for fat loss workout, consider the two conditions: -What does not overlap and conflict with your current training? -What is hardest for you? If you are really good at sprinting but terrible at rowing, then rowing is the thing to select. Essentially find whatever activity you are worst at, and pick that as your fat loss workout
  9. The two most arguably effective fat loss workouts (and conditioning methods) are hill sprints and/or pushing a heavy sled
  10. When in doubt, go with what makes you sweat the most 

Are these absolute rules? Nothing is absolute, but I think this as objective as you could be. There are questions though still to be answered “Is it better to do high-intensity cardio for fat loss, or steady state cardio?”  This question is best answered by context.

You have to ask yourself the following questions to make a  decision

  • How are my daily energy levels?
  • What’s my daily calorie deficit?
  • How intense is my weight training?
  • What’s my training schedule?

Now, if energy levels are LOW, you have to be really specific with any cardio you might add in, because it’s only going to sap you further. You want to avoid muscle loss as much as possible. In a low energy situation, you can either add steady state, OR you could replace it entirely with short but frequent interval workouts (say 10 minutes long), but those workouts would need to be SHORT.

Historically speaking, most bodybuilders got into shape with steady state cardio and lifting. HIIT training just gets intensely catabolic draining past a certain stage of dieting. What gets practiced more often is not true HIIT training, but intervals with longer recovery period -With the calorie deficit, similar question. Are you in a minor deficit? If so, you could reasonably add in intervals or HIIT. Is it a dramatic deficit? If so, then it may end up being more catabolic than beneficial.

-With lifting, how cardiovascularly intense is your lifting? If your lifting style is one of short rest periods, high volume, and it leaves you sweating and out of breath, then it might be entirely unnecessary to do more cardio. If your lifting is more moderately paced, single sets, and you don’t push for a cardiovascular effect, then yes, cardio should probably be added in.

-Lastly, whats your actual training schedule? Are you training legs twice a week, and supersetting all your workouts? Again, cardio isn’t always necessary depending on how you train. If your lifting is very intense, conventional WALKING may be all you need to lean out. All of this information given, it would probably be fair for me to give an actual fatloss workout, so here you go

The DB Squat Thrust Workout Time to Perform-15 Minutes

Im going to introduce you to a new concept, called EMOM EMOM=Each minute, on the minute What it means-You must perform a certain number of reps each time the clock changes. So each minute, on the minute, you are performing X number of reps, or X-Y range of reps, adjusting as you fatigue For this workout, your instructions are simple. You will set a time for 15 minutes. Each minute on the minute, you will perform 10 DB Squat Thrust.

This is a full squat to an overhead press, and back down again. This workout heavily taxes legs, core, upper body, and gets your heart rate UP rapidly. If you have shoulder issues that preclude you from pressing, this workout is not for you, but otherwise it is safe for nearly anyone to perform who has the requisite lower and upper body mobility. For Women, Id suggest using 10 or 15lb DBs, For Men, try 20-35 lbs

If you can complete 150 reps in the entire workout, then increase the weight slightly. The goal is not necessarily to be totally destroyed about-to-die, but rather to simply keep heart rate constantly elevated. But you likely will be destroyed first time out doing this, so don’t say I did not warn you. Train hard!


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