Reducing body fat is something that the majority of people struggle with at some stage in life and if you’re like most people, you’d be a lot happier a few pounds lighter, even if you are in pretty decent shape. Low body fat levels are what truly separate those who only look average to those who possess the hot bodies that all of us desire. It’s always amazes me how a relatively small shift of, say, 13% to 9% body fat can transform an average physique into a ripped and seemingly more muscular body. Just a small bit of body fat over a muscular frame will ruin a physique. I see this with a lot of the guys in the gym I go to. Most of them just look like tubby guys who lift weights, even though they’re technically not overweight. Sadly, it’s often the skinny ripped guys who look better, even if they can’t lift much more than the pink dumbbells.
The problem with fat loss is that its damn hard work. The training is gruelling and the discipline needed to stay on track with your diet requires a lot of will power. In this Extreme Fat Loss series I’m going to start by focussing more on the things that you can do in the gym to melt the blubber from your frame.
First though, a disclaimer. Most of these methods are not for the faint hearted. They’re incredibly taxing and will take a lot of mental fortitude to complete. It’s probably best to do with a training partner so that you can spur each other on, otherwise it will be just too easy to quit. Trust me on this; I can’t count the number of times I’ve cut my gym sessions short because I just couldn’t get through what I had planned. Also, some of this stuff isn’t really for beginners. If that’s you, rather work on your basic fitness levels before you launch into this.
So without further ado, here are some basic concepts to getting ultra lean that you need to understand before you can even train for leanness.
Create a Caloric Deficit
This is the most fundamental concept to grasp if you want to lose weight of any kind. You need to be consuming fewer calories than you are burning. Or stated as an equation, calories in < calories out. Now most dieters understand this concept, but go about it the wrong way and only manipulate the calories in side of the equation. So the traditional fat loss strategy has been to eat less. What this fails to take advantage of is the other side of the equation, the calories out side. Another problem with eating less is the concept of homeostasis that I mentioned in Re-ignite Your Workouts: Sure-fire Methods to Blast through a Plateau. When you eat less for an extended period of time, your body will slowly reduce your metabolic rate until it has matched your reduced caloric intake. That’s why traditional fat loss diets fail. Starvation diets aren’t fun and aren’t necessary.
A much better idea for fat loss is to concentrate on the calories out side of the equation by boosting your metabolic rate and burning far more calories than usual. You will achieve this with the training methods in this series.
Steady state cardio isn’t the holy grail of fat loss training
I know, I know, ever since Jane Fonda arrived on the scene in the eighties everybody has been brainwashed into thinking that aerobics and steady state cardio is the best way to lose weight because physiologically, you are in your fat burning zone. Well, it’s not the best way. A better way is to use a higher intensity level of exercise, something that will stress the body and keep the metabolism elevated for a lot longer after you’re done exercising.
Besides, if low intensity cardio was so effective, don’t you think we’d see a lot fewer heavyweight ‘power walkers’? What about all the people in your gym barely pedalling on the recumbent bicycle whilst reading a magazine. Not too slim, huh?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do any cardio. I definitely think it has a small role to play in your fat loss attack, but just realise that it’s probably the least effective method.
Increase the fat burning potential of the exercises your choose
This harps back to the point I made in Why You Should Train Like an Athlete about performing mostly compound exercises. Not only will compound, free weight exercises done standing up sculpt a sexier body, they’ll also send your metabolism into overdrive, burning far more calories for far longer. Tricep kickbacks and leg extensions have no place in a fat loss program, or any program for that matter.
Tomorrow, the fat-loss training begins with the Tabata method. Stay Tuned.
UPDATE: Part 2 – Extreme Fat Loss: The Tabata Method