Tuesday, August 10, 2010

(Order of) Operation: Fat Burn

At the beginning of the year I picked up an exercise physiology book written by Alwyn Cosgrove. Alwyn Cosgrove is one of the MOST SUCCESSFUL trainers in the United States. His gym down in Santa Clarita is hugely successful. He has written a few books, one of which is called "The New Rules of Lifting for Women."  If you are looking to start training on your own, this book is the one tool you will need. This is a great book and really demonstrates his knack for putting together awesome fat loss programs.

One of the things he wrote in his book was the weight loss hierarchy. This was a simple little thing that I have known and incorporated into our programs but for some reason, never put it into a bullet point layout. And I don't know about you, but I like things simple. Maybe it's just a man's brain, or perhaps I fit into the Forrest Gump tag line of "Simple is as simple does," but once I saw this it became burned into my memory.

The hierarchy is simply the steps taken for long term, successful weight loss, starting from the most important "do this first" step all the way down to the least important, "if you've got an extra 4 hours a week in addition to your other training then do this" step.

So here is Alwyn Cosgrove's weight loss hierarchy (and this should look stunningly familiar to you!!) 
  1. Nutrition- Most people aren't overweight because they don't move enough. In fact most people who are overweight eat so much they practically could not exercise enough to balance out how much they are eating. The first step in ANY weight loss program should be to get your nutritional situation ironed out and stabilized: eating 5-6 times per day, eating breakfast daily, including protein with each meal and minimizing grain intake.
  2. Metabolic Resistance Training- This is simply resistance training done in a way that alternates periods of hard work and rest. But this can't be work hard for 15 seconds then rest for 4 minutes. This is alternating hard work for :30-:60 seconds then resting for :30-:60 seconds. Also alternating upper and lower body exercises works well for increasing the amount of work with minimal actual "do-nothing" rest.  Quick side note: don't worry about how many calories you burn during exercise, rather focus on ways to increase your metabolism during the other 23 hours you aren't exercising. 
  3. High Intensity Interval Training - Research shows over and over that by increasing your post-exercise energy usage, you DRAMATICALLY increase your fat burning. So why would you avoid that? Oh...that's right...it is BRUTALLY TOUGH. Choose any activity such as running, cycling, swimming or body weight calisthenics and alternate periods of hard work and easy work. The work rest periods should have a longer rest period than work period to allow adequate rest. For example if you run, alternate 1 minute of fast running with 2 minutes of walking then repeat 6-8 times.
  4. High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training - this is similar to the above, but instead of having shorter work:rest periods, make them longer. For example do 5 minutes of faster jogging and then 2 minutes of walking. Repeat 3 times for a total of 21 minutes.
  5. The last thing on the list is steady state training. This is simply put hard cardio work. It won't add to an increase in fat burning the rest of the day, but it will chew up some calories during the workout and an extra 300 calories per day will add up.
 Overall, you can see it starts with nutrition. Then it builds to strength training and interval training. Get this one point here though: Do not worry about how many calories you burn during the workout. Instead focus on how your workout will effect your metabolism for the rest of the day.

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