Strength Training For Fat Loss: Building A Bigger Engine!
Strength training with diet and cardio burns fat more than cardio and diet alone. Here’s a sample pre-contest & circuit training routine that are bound to fire up the fat loss furnace!
When it comes to fat loss, most people embark on a program of cardio and dieting. Strength training is just an afterthought. Strength training, however, can burn just as much, if not more, fat than cardio. Why is it that people focus on cardio as they’re primary fat burner?
For one thing cardio does shrink you down. But it does just that: it shrinks down both your fat and muscle. You end skinny and soft. Bodybuilders, however, want to retain or even build muscle while burning off fat. Why? A larger engine burns more fuel. Larger muscles burn more calories and more fat.
While cardio burns calories and fat when you’re performing it, high rep strength training has what is known as high EPOC or “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.” This is a fancy term for saying how long your metabolism is elevated after exercise.
Studies show that a well-designed strength program can elevate your EPOC or metabolism for up to 38 hours after the workout. In other words, you continue to burn calories long after strength training. Whereas once you stop cardio, the calorie burning stops as well.
Strength training coupled with diet and cardio burns fat far more than cardio and diet alone. In bodybuilding terms, we call this “cutting up.”
Bodybuilders bulk up in the off-season, gaining as much weight and muscle as possible. During pre-contest season, they strip away the fat through diet and training, which consists of weight training at higher reps with shorter rest periods. This sort of training induces a large dump of growth hormone (GH) in your body. GH is a potent fat loss hormone and a very mild anabolic.
Generations of bodybuilders have figured out through trial and error that high rep strength training coupled with cardio and low carb dieting gets them cut up.
Here’s what a conventional pre-contest bodybuilding program might look like:
- Bench press
- Incline dumbbell press
- Cable crossovers
- Lat pulldowns
- Dumbbell rows
- Seated cable rows
- Dumbbell military press
- Side Laterals
- Bent over laterals
- Cable laterals
- Machine Hack squats
- Leg extensions
- Leg curls
- Standing calf raises
- Donkey calf raises
- Seated calf raises
- Preacher curls
- Incline curls
- Concentration curls
- Triceps pressdowns
- Dumbbell kickbacks
As you can see a typical pre-contest routine involves more machines, dumbbells and isolation movements. Rest periods would start out at 1 minute and decrease by ten seconds from week to week until you hit 20 seconds of rest. Each body part would be trained 3 times a week.
Although bodybuilders have followed this type of training for decades, this doesn’t mean it’s the optimal cutting program. Unless you bulked up to gigantic proportions during the off-season or are on a cycle of steroids, you would most likely overtrain from the high volume of sets and exercises on the above program. This type of training coupled with dieting would make you lose muscle rather than retain it.
Rather than rely on high volume and drugs to burn fat, the natural bodybuilder should add some modern refinements to his or her strength training/fat loss strategy:
- Superset between upper and lower body movements through “mini-circuits”
- Focus on free weights, compound and multiple compound lifts, and use isolation movements only to bring up lagging parts
- Train each body part 3 times a week, but lower the overall volume by spreading the sets and exercises throughout the week
Although circuit training is a great strength training routine for fat loss, logistically, it is not always feasible. Anyone who has tried circuit training in the gym knows how pissed off people can be when you hog up multiple machines and stations. Plus people will jump in on a machine, thinking that you’re done because you moved on to the next exercise in the circuit.