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Inefficiency Training For Rapid Fat Loss

Looking for effective rapid fat loss training? Add inefficiency training to your regimen 

The most effective strategy to win the battle against fat is to build as much muscle as possible. Do not confuse building muscle with increasing bulk. Adding more muscle doesn’t necessarily mean you will build more mass. Alternatively, losing weight doesn’t mean you’re losing fat.  Many people go from being very fat to skinny fat and that is not an effective way to win the battle against fat, as you’re still essentially fat! The importance of building muscle to win the battle against fat is the theme of my best selling DVD The Kettlebell Solution For Fat Loss And Mental Toughness

Just because you take up less space on the planet doesn’t mean you’re actually leaner. You can build muscle and actually increase bodyweight yet reduce bodyfat dramatically.  You will have the appearance of being smaller as muscle is much more compact. Think of muscle as being a boxing heavy bag and fat as being a large beanbag. The heavy bag weighs much more but takes up less space. The large beanbag weighs less but takes up much more space.    

Okay you understand why having more muscle improves your appearance but how does it actually help with burning more fat? Muscle requires serious metabolic power to maintain. Your metabolism is burning energy around the clock to maintain the muscle you have. When you’re sitting on the coach watching reruns of Seinfeld and Two And A Half Men you’re expending energy to maintain your muscle mass. When you got to sleep for eight hours at night, you have to burn energy all night to maintain high levels of muscle mass. Energy is released from stored bodyfat to get the job done.

The more muscle you have the more metabolic currency you have and this is how you finally win the battle against fat loss. Having high levels of muscle is like having high levels of passive income. With passive income you make money while you are not working. When you have high levels of muscle you burn energy when you’re not training. Put in a few effective workouts per week and you add some serious metabolic active income that further enhances your stores of metabolic passive income over the long haul. 

Trying to reduce fat without building muscle is like putting in lots of billable hours. With billable hours you make money while you’re working. Once you punch out you’re no longer making money.  Same thing goes for forms of training such as jogging on a treadmill in which you are simply burning calories. Once you stop jogging the calorie burning stops. Contrast this with interval training in which you do an all out effort for thirty seconds and then go at a moderate pace for thirty seconds. 15-20 minutes of this form of intense truing is a metabolic powerhouse and the benefits last long after the workout is over. This is the kind of training you want to focus on to win the battle against fat. 

Before I go further let me state clearly that I am not against moderate forms of exercise such as jogging, tai chi, and walking. Moderate or restoration forms of exercise are beneficial for heart health, de-stressing, and for releasing good feeling hormones. They have a place in an overall program but are not optimal when fat loss is the goal. Walking is only the best form of exercise when you’re very overweight or seriously out of shape. When you are fit walking does nothing to improve your body composition or fitness. I take my dogs for two-mile walks every day and don’t even count it as part of my exercise regimen. I am not breathing hard after the walks nor am I remotely tired. However, I do feel great after the walks and enjoy getting out into some fresh air with my animal friends everyday. Is walking beneficial for reducing stress and elevating mood? You bet it is! Is it effective for building muscle and improving your metabolism for fat loss? Possibly if you’re really out of shape, carry a ton of fat, or wear a 100-pound weight vest. 

The more efficient a form of exercise is the less benefit it will have on fat loss. Walking fifty yards at a moderate pace is a very efficient way to get from the starting point to the finishing point. You utilize a very small amount of energy and can keep up the pace for an extended period of time. Alternatively. Sprinting is a very inefficient way to travel the same fifty yards. You apply an all out of effort and can keep up the pace for a limited period of time. Guess which one if more effective for fat loss? Without question sprinting is.

Sprinting is an excellent example of a good metabolic enhancing fat loss workout. Such a workout should leave you huffing and puffing after a brief effort. I like to do 10-12 hill sprints two times per week and it is an incredible workout. It only takes a few weeks to start seeing improvements in body composition. Run fifty yards as fast as you can and then walk back to the starting point and repeat. If you’re putting in a maximum effort you will be breathing hard after the first run.

What I like about sprinting is you’re always being inefficient. The better you get at it the faster you can go and the harder you continue to work. No matter what your fitness level is, if you continue to apply a maximum effort you will continue to derive incredible results.

Sprinting has also been shown to increase growth hormone levels dramatically. Growth hormone is a powerful fat burning hormone and is also linked to longevity in humans. It helps keep your immune system strong, improves skin health, and mood. While there is some debate regarding the actual benefits of increasing growth hormone from exercise, I feel that anytime you increase growth hormone it is a positive thing. When your growth hormone levels are elevated you’re in a thriving state. While increasing growth hormone via training is not the equivalent of taking an injection of growth hormone, it is still a positive outcome and a sign of a good workout. On the other hand, when your workout results in super high levels of the stress hormone cortisol and depleted levels of growth hormone, testosterone, and DHEA it is a sign of a deleterious workout. If nothing else, the increase in all the right hormones after training is a sign of a beneficial workout that leaves you in a thriving state. We should always exercise in a manner that optimizes hormones as our hormones in particular leptin, insulin, and adrenaline control fat loss.

Another excellent example of inefficiency training for fat loss is circuit training. Ina recent interview on the outstanding internet fitness radio show Super Human Radio top strength coach Dan John author of Never Let Go made the point of emphasizing inefficiency training to effectively reduce bodyfat. Dan gave the example of circuit training as an example of an effective form of inefficiency training for fat loss. With circuit training you do several exercises in a workout and go from one move to the next with very short breaks or no breaks at all for several rounds. The focus should be on compound exercises such as upper body presses, upper body pulls, lower body presses, lower body pulls and some torso work.

This style of training, similar to sprinting also improves leptin and insulin sensitivity, which are both critical for reducing bodyfat. Leptin is a master control hormone that determines your metabolic rate. When Leptin is working optimally your metabolic rate is set high and you have an abundance of energy for fat burning, muscle building, and sex hormone production. Insulin in an anabolic hormone and the less insulin the pancreas needs to release to shuttle nutrients to the liver, muscles, and cells the less spillover there will be into stored bodyfat. Insulin is also highly inflammatory so the less you produce to get the job done the better. Inflammation will increase cortisol (cortisol is anti-inflammatory and is released to lower inflammation) and while we need some production of inflammation for health, most people produce way too much. High levels of inflammation will have a deleterious effect on building muscle and thus reducing body fat.

While circuit training is fantastic for improving physique composition goals it is not the best way to go to improve strength. When strength is the goal you want to be fresh before each effort. This means long breaks in between each set. Pavel Tsatsouline’s GTG (greasing the groove) program s a good example of a program for increasing strength. With this program you practice an exercise you’re trying to improve several times per day. You take around an hour or more between each effort and avoid training to failure. As a result your nervous system becomes very efficient and your performance improves quickly. However, the intensity is way too low to build muscle and improve physique composition. 

Life is all about making sacrifices so when fat loss is the priority, inefficiency training is the solution you’re seeking. Remember, physique composition goals come form keeping training inefficient. The harder you work the more your body will adapt by building muscle and reducing bodyfat. The more efficient you get the less adaptation is required and you will reach a point of stagnation. While you may continue to make improvements in performance such as being able to complete more reps with the same weight, eventually physique composition improvements will stall or come to a complete halt. 

Lets explore this theme further. When you first started working on the bench press, you may have found bench-pressing 135lbs very difficult for five repetitions. Your body responded by making the chest, front delts, and triceps stronger and bigger to adapt to the stimulus. Once you became more efficient you were able to bench press 135lbs fifteen times. Your strength endurance improved but you probably did not see as much improvement in muscle gain or any for that matter. What if you decided to stay with 135lbs anyway and work up to 50 reps in a row? Sure your work capacity would no doubt improve but you would not see any additional increase in muscle or improvement in body composition. The intensity is just not high enough anymore. In the beginning it was intense enough but your body adapted by getting stronger and building more muscle and now it is simply too easy to be effective 

Rather than just building the reps endlessly you have to change parameters to make the workout more intense. The obvious choice is to increase the weight. Another option would be to do more sets and then over time reduce the time between each set. Basically, you have to find ways to increase the difficulty of training to continue to see improvements in physique composition. The key is to avoid becoming too creative. For example, don’t waste time with parameters such as tempo. Super slow training being an extreme example in which you lower the weight under a count of ten seconds and then complete the concentric portion under a count of five seconds. There is a reason why all of the super slow training studios in the US went out of business a long time ago!

Performance should always be an important component with any training program. World-renowned kettlebell expert Steve Cotter said it best at a workshop in 2006 when asked about kettlebell technique. Steve said that one should always use the most efficient technique possible and if you want to increase the difficulty go to heavier kettlebells rather than using sub optimal technique. I agree with Steve completely. When I design circuit-training programs for my clients for fat loss I always keep performance in the forefront of my mind. While it is not the best way to get stronger, I want my clients to be as strong as possible when doing circuit training and attain the ability to perform at a high level. Not only do my clients lose a ton of fat, they also develop serious mental toughness, which is a skill set that is unfortunately in short supply in our society today.

In addition to looking good, you should be able to perform at a high level as well. This comes from learning the optimal technique for any exercise you do. Whether it is sprinting up a hill, bench-pressing a barbell, doing one-arm kettlebell snatches, you should be able to perform at a high level. When I hear men say that they don’t care about being strong and fit, they just want to look good, I respond by saying they need to trade in their man cards assuming they ever had any. Spend less time posting shirtless pictures of yourself on Facebook in a desperate attempt to get praise form strangers and spend more time engaging in effective training to get strong and fit.  The same advice applies to you ladies but feel free to keep posting the pictures on Facebook for my professional feedback of course! 

Okay now that I got that rant out of the way, lets go through some examples of effective circuit training program for fat loss. I am going to cover a kettlebell version, bodyweight version, and dumbbell version. I am not a fan of using barbell work for circuit training as form tends to breakdown much faster with heavy barbell training vs. dumbbells, kettlebells, or bodyweight training.

Option 1: Kettlebell Circuit Training

Five rounds of

One-arm Kettlbell Windmill 1×8 each side click here for instruction

Alternating Renegade Row 1×8 each side click here for instruction

Kettlebell Lockout Press 1×8 each side click here for instruction

Double Kettlebell Front Squat 1×8 click here for more info

Double Kettebell Swing 1×8: click here for instruction

Start off with 45-second breaks in between each exercise and one-minute breaks after each round. When that gets doable take the breaks down to thirty seconds between each exercise and 45 seconds between each round. Long-term goal is no breaks between each exercise or round. When you can do that start building the reps for each exercise. When you can do five rounds of 12 reps per exercise move up to heavier bells.

Option 2: Dumbbell Circuit Training

Five rounds of

Dumbbell Clean and Press 1×8

Alternating Dumbbell Renegade Row 1×8 each side

One-arm Dumbbell Windmill 1×8 each side

Walking Dumbbell Lunge 1×8 each side

One-arm Dumbbell Swing 1×8 each side

Start off with 45-second breaks in between each exercise and one-minute breaks after each round. When that gets doable take the breaks down to thirty seconds between each exercise and 45 seconds between each round. Long-term goal is no breaks between each exercise or round. When you can do that start building the reps for each exercise. When you can do five rounds of 12 reps per exercise move up to heavier bells.

Option 3: Bodyweight Circuit Training

Five rounds of

Pull-ups 1×10

Jumping Lunges 1×15 each side

Handstand Pushups 1×10

Hanging Leg Raise 1×10

Hindu Squat 1×25

Start off with 45-second breaks in between each exercise and one-minute breaks after each round. When that gets doable take the breaks down to thirty seconds between each exercise and 45 seconds between each round. Long-term goal is no breaks between each exercise or round. When you can do that start building the reps for each exercise.

Other fun options for fat loss training include hill sprints, sledgehammer tire strikes done back to back with double kettlebell swings, sandbag circuit training etc. Keep it fun, as there are so many options that you should never get bored or stuck in a rut.

Remember that nutrition is a crucial component for fat loss and for most people will be at least 60-70% of the puzzle. Check out my hormone optimization info for help in that department.


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