People often make the mistake of thinking that all they have to do to lose extra body fat is to exercise. They think any kind of physical acitivity will strip the pounds off and end up disappointed and disheartened by their lack success.
In fact, there’s an art to designing successful exercise programs for fat loss. First, intermittent exercise that alternates between intense bursts of activity and rest is a standard for fat loss training because it produces a large afterburn so that you burn calories during recovery at an accelerated rate.
Second, brief rest intervals allow you to avoid getting bored and they lead to increased production of lactate, which correlates with the release of growth hormone, the most potent fat burning hormone.
Third, training against resistance will trigger protein synthesis and allow you to preserve muscle mass while losing fat, which is essential for maintaining metabolic rate.
Fourth, it’s necessary that you be mindful of food intake because a well-documented side effect of starting an exercise program is the tendency to compensate for calories burned during a workout by eating more. In fact, people who start working out without taking care to monitor diet often gain fat in the process.
With these principles in mind, this article will give you the three best fat loss workouts that are appropriate based on various levels of training experience.
#1: GBC Superset Training
German Body Composition superset training has two benefits for anyone in the general population who wants to lose body fat and have a well-functioning physique: It saves time and it elevates post-workout calorie burn more than traditional weight training.
Who’s It For: Beginners. Anyone Who Wants To Lose Fat & Get In Shape.
The Evidence: A 2010 study compared the effect of a GBC-style superset workout with traditional exercises on energy expenditure, blood lactate, and afterburn (called EPOC for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). The GBC superset workout allowed no rest between paired superset exercises and 60 seconds before beginning the next superset. The paired exercises were trained to failure:
Bench press with bent-over row
Biceps curl with lying triceps extension
Leg extension with leg curl
The traditional protocol trained the same six exercises separately with 60 seconds rest between each set. A load of 70 percent of the 1 RM was used for both protocols.
Results found that the superset workout took less time (30 minutes compared to 36) and energy expenditure was significantly greater (8.1 calories/minute for supersets compared to 6.2 cal/min for traditional exercises).
EPOC was also 33 percent higher for supersets than for traditional training during the 60-minute recovery period. Blood lactate was also much higher during supersets (5.1 mmol/L) than traditional (3.8 mmol/L) training.
The above protocol is appropriate for complete beginners and should be trained twice a week. People who are active or who have some training experience can try the following more advanced sample protocol:
Day 1 Day 2
A1 Hex Bar Deadlift A1 DB Squats, Heels Elevated
A2 Dumbbell (DB) Bench Press A2 Seated Row, Supinated Grip
B1 DB Lunges B1 45 Degree Back Extension
B2 Lat Pull-down, Pronated Grip B2 DB Biceps Curl
C1 Lying Leg Curl, Feet Neutral C1 Leg Press, Medium Stance
C2 DB Overhead Press C2 Lying Triceps Extension
Do 4 sets each to voluntary failure. Use a 70 percent load that you can lift 12 times with a controlled tempo with no rest between superset pairs and 30 seconds rest between each superset.
#2: High-Intensity Strength Training
High-intensity strength training takes GBC to the next level, causing a large metabolic disturbance so that you get a killer afterburn. How killer?
One study found that HIT with weights increased energy expenditure by a whopping 450 percent in the 24 post-workout recovery period. This type of training will also increase strength and muscle mass, which will give you the upper hand at losing body fat because it allows you to handle heavier loads with more ease.
Who’s It For: Fitness Minded Individuals & Athletes
The Evidence: A 2012 study compared the effect of high-intensity strength training with a traditional protocol in trained men on post-workout energy expenditure (EPOC) and lactate accumulation. The HIT program consisted of a rest-pause protocol of 2 sets of leg press, chest press, and pull-downs performed using an intensity of 85 percent of the 1RM to failure.
The traditional program included 4 sets to failure with an intensity of 75 percent of the 1RM for eight exercises (bench press, dorsal machine, military press, bicep curls, triceps extensions, leg press, leg curls, and sit-ups). Rest periods were 1 minute between single joint exercises and 2 minutes between multi-joint exercises.
The HIT workout took a total of 32 minutes and resulted in a significant blood lactate elevation of 10.5 mmol/L. Participants burned an extra 452 calories in the 22 hours after exercise, increasing daily energy expenditure from an average 1909 to 2362 calories.
The traditional workout took nearly double the time (62 minutes) and resulted in a moderate blood lactate elevation of 5.1 mmol/L. Participants burned an extra 98 calories in the 22-hour post-workout period, increasing energy expenditure from an average 1901 to 1999 calories.
Training a high-intensity strength program a few times a week for a month or two will produce rapid fat loss due to the following three mechanisms:
1) The limited rest and hard work causes the body’s demand for oxygen to vastly exceed its ability to deliver it to the muscles, producing the huge increase in calorie use.
2) Lactate buildup in the HIT group was double that of the traditional group. Remember, the intensity at which lactate accumulates is associated with release of GH, the “fat burning hormone.” GH may also improve tissue repair and recovery in the post-workout period.
3) The HIT group also increased the use of fatty acids for fuel to satisfy the high energy cost of the workout. The ability to mobilize and burn fat is vital for keeping you energized while losing fat because it means the body is capable of shifting between fuel sources.
#3: Heavy, Short-Rest Circuit Training
Circuit training isn’t what most people think of when they picture a mass gaining workout, but it’s perfect for building muscle and losing fat because it triggers hypertrophy and fat burning pathways simultaneously.
Who’s It For: Advanced Trainees, Bodybuilders & Athletes
The Evidence: A 2011 study found that an 8-week circuit training program with just enough rest between sets to transition to the next exercise allowed for more favorable body composition changes than a traditional workout with standard rest periods.
Two circuits were used for the circuit workout—the first one was leg curl, bench press, standing calf raises and the second was lat pull downs, squats, and preacher curls. The traditional workout used the same six exercises in sequential order with 3-minute rest periods.
The beauty of circuit training is that you don’t have to go light or easy due to the fact that you alternate the muscle groups being worked. This protocol used heavy loads of 85 to 93 percent of the 1 RM for both the circuit and traditional protocols.
Results showed that In half the training time, the circuit training group lost 1.5 percent body fat and gained 1.6 kg of muscle, whereas the traditional group lost 1 percent body fat and gained 1.2 kg of muscle, making circuit training slightly more effective for transforming body composition.
In addition, the circuit-training group increased bench press 1RM by an average of 19.5 kg and the squat 1RM by 44.2 kg. The traditional training group increased bench press 1RM by an average of 17.7 kg, and squat 1RM by 45 kg.
A few things about circuit training make it so beneficial for fat loss and improving muscle mass:
- You can increase both load and mechanical tension by pairing agonist-antagonist exercises or upper-lower body lifts. This allows for greater activation of growth via genetic pathways and satellite cells, which are key for muscle development.
- It produces significant metabolic stress from the buildup of lactate and hydrogen ions because you allow for little recovery time. The result is the release of growth factors, including cytokines and hormones that correlate with hypertrophy and promote fat burning.
Final Words: Body transformation is not easy, but with the right program for your training status and a smart nutrition plan, you can achieve the healthy, powerful, lean physique you’ve been dreaming about.