Monday, December 8, 2008

Metabolic Resistance Training for Fat Loss

Metabolic resistance training for fat loss is all the rage right now, and I'm fully on board with it. The principles of metabolic resistance training for fat loss are as follows:

1. Use Compound Exercises, Hybrid Exercises & Complexes

A compound exercise is simply one which involves multiple muscle groups and joint movements simultaneously. A barbell squat is a prime example of a compound exercise because it works the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, upper back, and other core muscles all at the same time and acts on both the hip and knee joints.

A hybrid exercise is simply 2 compound exercises performed simultaneously. The dumbbell front squat to overhead press is a prime example of a hybrid exercise, as is the split squat to low cable row.

Finally, a complex is simply a series of either compound or hybrid exercises performed one right after the other with a very short transition between each exercise (usually none at all). Complexes usually call for the use of the same training load for each exercise within the complex to reduce rest time and ensure a smooth transition between exercises. The number of reps performed for each exercise within a complex can vary: there is usually a rep volume of 50-100 when performing a complex, so one would be advised to divide the total # of reps up evenly between the # of exercises within the complex.

2. Use Short Rest Periods

The whole idea behind metabolic resistance training is, as the name implies, to create a metabolic disturbance both during and after the training session. The best way to do this is to utilize short rest periods between sets and exercises within a metabolic resistance training for fat loss session. This ensures incomplete recovery, keeps the oxygen consumption high, and paves the way for optimal fat loss.

30-60 seconds between sets and exercises is a good general guideline to follow, although in some metabolic programs, the rest periods are much shorter. If you are de-conditioned, and need to start out with longer rest periods, that's ok. Just try to reduce your rest each week or from workout to workout.

3. Use Light to Moderate Training Loads

A big mistake many people make when engaging in a metabolic resistance training program is using loads/weights which are entirely too heavy. Remember, this is NOT strength training and the goal is not to (directly anyway) increase maximal strength. The goal is FAT LOSS and work capacity enhancement. You should be more concerned with increasing the volume of work than the actual training loads you are using. If you are failing to hit the repetition targets you set out for yourself on any given exercise, at any point during your workout, you are going too heavy. Again, if you feel like something is way too light, I'd rather see you increase the volume of reps or sets before you go heavier.

Now, I'm not saying you should use ultra light weights but you definitely need a resistance which your muscles recognize as being somewhat challenging. There really is no hard and fast rule about how much or how little to use in terms of a percentage of your maximal strength on a given exercise, etc. Put it this way, the load you choose for each exercise should be "annoying hard", just enough to keep you breathing heavy.

4. Perform a High Volume and Density of Work

It is not uncommon during a metabolic resistance training workout to perform 20+ sets and several hundred repetitions in a half hour or under. Now, you may not start out with at this volume, but you should try to progress to this level. Once again, performing a high volume and density of work ensures you are really stoking your metabolism and keeping it stoked for many many hours post workout. Increasing post workout metabolism is the whole goal of metabolic resistance training: THIS IS SOMETHING TRADITIONAL "CARDIO" DOESN'T DO VERY EFFECTIVELY.

Now that we understand the principles and rationale behind metabolic resistance training for fat loss, let's look at a sample workout:

1. Stability Ball Push-up to Jackknife - 10-15 reps

2. Split Squat to Low Cable Row - 10-15 reps each side

3. Dumbbell Front Squat to Press (aka "Thruster") - 10-15 reps

4. Trap Bar Deadlift to Carry (4 lengths): 5 deadlifts, walk 10 yds, turn around and repeat 4 times without stopping)

5. 10 pushups, 10 cross body mountain climbers, 10 burpees, 10 jump squats, 10 recline rows (barbell in rack, TRX, etc): perform all of these one right after the other.

Rest: 30-45 seconds between each exercise. Rest 90-120 seconds after the fifth movement and repeat for 4 circuits. Collapse on the ground and wonder why in the world you just did this to yourself. Feel your body turning into a human inferno!

There you have it, a metabolic resistance training for fat loss workout which is sure to challenge even the most hardcore fitness enthusiast. If you are a beginner, don't worry: just adjust the rest periods and number of circuits initially to allow yourself to get through it. You can adjust from there. If you combine this type of program 3-4 days/week with a sound nutrition program, you'll give yourself the best chance for success in meeting your fat loss goals. Remember, you can't out train a poor diet!


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