Posts Tagged ‘fat loss’

Tabata training is a hot topic today in the fitness world. For some reason, I got a wild hair today to try it. I had heard a lot about it, but never had the courage to try it out. I am a fan of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and was looking for something new so I figured what the heck.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Tabata training, it is interval training where you exercise for 20 seconds with a 10 second break, and repeat. It was started by Izumi Tabata, a Japanese scientist, who did research on speed skaters comparing this training method to steady state training (long distance). The group that performed the intervals showed a greater increase in VO2 and also showed improvements in their anaerobic capacity.

Tabata Training Intervals

Because I haven’t done any cardio in awhile and was scared by the 2:1 work:rest ratio (I usually do a 1:3 work:rest ratio for intervals), I did not get anywhere close to the recommended intensity which is about 170% of your VO2 max. In layman’s terms, working at 170% of your VO2 max with a rest break that is half the time of the exercise time will make you want to pass out or throw up.

My other excuse is more valid. I started a new workout program this week and this was my off day for lifting between a full body day and a lower body day, and I didn’t want to ruin myself for a leg workout I had never done before.

Here is what my workout looked like:

20 sec 5 degree 8 mph

  • 10 sec rest

20 sec 5 degree 8 mph

  • 10 sec rest

20 sec 5 degree 8.5 mph

  • 10 sec rest

20 sec 5 degree 8.5 mph

  • 10 sec rest

20 sec 5 degree 9 mph

  • 10 sec rest

20 sec 5 degree 9 mph

  • 10 sec rest

20 sec 5 degree 9 mph

  • Curse Izumi Tabata
I lost count, but I completed around 8 cycles which is the recommended number. This was a pretty solid intensity for me to get my feet wet. It was definitely challenging, but I didn’t feel like I was going to die after I was finished.
The 10 second rest goes by really fast and you don’t recover much so I wouldn’t suggest trying to set a world record the first time you do it.
It is a great tool for fat loss, as all interval training is. If you are looking to switch it up a bit, try out Tabata training and let me know how you like it.
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Somewhere along the line, a terrible myth was born that cardio was the key for fat loss (when I say fat loss I also mean weight loss). Running miles every day and spending 40 minutes on the elliptical at a pace that wouldn’t even be considered a jog are the answer to cutting into those fat reserves you’ve built up over the years.

Unfortunately, that isn’t true at all. I have explained why HIIT training is an effective fat loss method. Many of the same principles and ideas carry over when using weight training as a method for fat loss.

Here are two of the basic scientific reasons it is better to weight train for fat loss:

For starters, lifting weights increases your resting metabolic rate. Muscle has a higher energy cost than fat so as you add lean body mass, your body has to constantly work at a higher level. This results in burning more calories throughout the day while just sitting around.

Another bonus of weight training is the hormonal response involved. Testosterone levels are increased along with insulin. This leads to more efficient break down of protein and carbs. It also helps with the mobilization and metabolism of fatty acids. Your body actually learns to be more effective with breaking down and moving fat to use as a fuel source.

Two other big reasons the general public doesn’t utilize weights when trying to slim down:

  1. Jogging is easy. You don’t have to push yourself when you are jogging at a nice easy pace.
  2. The general public doesn’t know what to do in the weight room or how to properly do it. You see people wondering from machine to machine using a weight they could complete 35 reps with but are surprised they aren’t seeing any results.

Skinny fat people jog. No one wants to be skinny fat. Or have a barbwire bicep tat.

Don't be skinny fat

So what should you do?

Challenge yourself. The weight should be heavy enough to where the last rep is difficult to complete whether you are doing a set of 3 or 15… and stay below 15.

Full body workouts, 3 days a week. Multi-joint lifts (squat) burn more fat than isolation lifts (think bicep curls). Drop the upper and lower body splits and go with full body days so you can incorporate exercises like a DB Squat to Overhead Press.

Screen-Shot-2012-01-25-at-11.41.27-AM

Superset. Stop standing around and socializing in between sets and add a superset. Start with pairing a more intense exercise, like to DB Squat to Overhead Press, with an isolation lift, like a bicep curl. This will allow you to do twice as much work in the same amount of time. Take 15-30 seconds of rest between the two. As you progress, make the exercise pairing more difficult or add a short sprint on the treadmill.

Circuits. Once you get a hang of supersets, start doing circuits. Circuits have the same idea of a superset, just more exercises. Put together 3+ exercises and complete them in succession with short breaks in between each exercise. Once you finish one round, take a 1-2 minute break and go again.

Disclaimer: Circuits are hard, really hard. If they aren’t hard, you are doing something wrong. I personally hate doing circuits because of this reason, but if you want to cut some fat, it’s the way to go.

Below is a sample circuit. Complete 1 set of each exercise then move on to the next after a 15 second break. Take a 90 second break after each time through all 5 exercises. Complete the whole circuit 3 times. Start with 10 reps at a low weight and increase reps first, then weight as it gets easier.

  1. DB Squat to Overhead Press
  2. Push-Ups
  3. Forward Lunges
  4. Lat Pulldown
  5. Tricep Ext
  6. 10 second sprint on treadmill

The possibilities are endless with circuits. A general rule of thumb is to make the first two exercises a multi-joint upper and lower body lift and work more towards an isolation exercise. I also like to throw in some type of cardio to really elevate the heart rate.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. If you have any other suggestions for circuits or personal favorites, please feel free to share!