When people think of effective fat loss training, a few methods stand out more than others. Some swear by high intensity interval training (HIIT), others by weights only and some, just with cardio alone. The truth is, all these methods have their merits and they aid in weight loss to some degree.
Now the million dollar question stands: How do you then decide which is the most effective method for you?
Jumping straight into a fat loss program such as HIIT or an endless amount of aerobic work (without considering your past and where you currently are) could very possibly be the reason for failure on your fat loss endeavour. The Higher Performance methodology to fat loss is based on a systematic study of data and progress through observation and experimentation. This allows us to not only plan ahead for a client but also look at the past to help determine a favourable outcome.
The 3 aspects of fat loss that should be considered before embarking on your journey are life stressors, one’s prior training program (or exercise experience) and lastly, your carbohydrate sensitivity. Let’s explore why these factors are important and how they affect your fat-loss goals.
1. Life Stressors
All stressors whether internal or external are ultimately the same as they all contribute to the homeostatic disruption, also known as, fatigue.
As you can see from the diagram above, the further down the rabbit hole you go, the harder and longer it will become to return back to the baseline of recovery. The longer it takes to return back to baseline, the longer you are spending time in a stressed mode. And explore in our previous article, (Stress & Its Implications on Fat Loss), we know the acute damage stress can do to your health.
It is important to note that the only time huge amounts of stress are good for fat loss is during training, and not outside of it. This would mean that for someone who has a stressful schedule and lives with poor sleep; high frequency HIIT and high volume strength work can cause more harm than good for your body.
A general rule of thumb to follow: The higher the external stress you have, the lesser the damage you should have in your program and the lesser time you should spend in a high lactate environment. Instead, your program should be heavy and low in reps to increase your free testosterone. The short rest helps to make it highly aerobic in nature to downregulate your autonomic nervous system and ultimately, better manage your stress.
Program for people with high external stress:
A1) Bench Press x 5 w 8 RPE
A2) Back Squats x 5 w 8 RPE
A3) Pull Up x 5 w 8 RPE
A4) Hanging Leg Raise x 5
A5) Kettlebell Swing x 5 w 8 RPE
X 8 rounds
2. Prior Training Experience
Moving on to prior training experience, as Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
You see, fat loss is all about being inefficient.
If doing the same program for months and years did not get you to where you need to be, there is a high probability that you have become efficient in executing your program. As much as you may feel that the particular workout you are doing is the best (feeling sweaty and exhausted by the end), that ultimately does not mean much. This is because fat loss is more than just burning calories, it is about your hormones too.
Now, the program that is going to put your body in a favourable fat burning state (also known as: inefficient), is the program you never visited or most likely, suck at.
If you have been doing a HIIT like program for a period of time and your fat loss progress has stalled, it is time for a much needed switch up.Your program instead should focus on lifting as heavy as possible to induce free testosterone as you are inefficient in strength work. Note that, red lining your heart rate should not be done here as you want to also take this time to deload from the stimulus you have been on.
Program for the HIIT fanatic:
A1) Pull Up 7 x 3 w 5RM
A2) Bench Press 7 x 3 w 5RM
B1) Deficit Deadlift 7 x 3 w 5RM
C1) Hack Squat 7 x 5 w 9 RPE
D1) Bike for 20 mins at 7 RPE
3. Carbohydrate Sensitivity
Last but not least, let us talk about carbohydrate sensitivity. Everyone thinks of carbohydrates as the enemy when it comes to fat loss. As explored in our previous article ‘Utilising Carbohydrates For Efficient Fat Loss’, we know that carbs can actually be your best friend.
However, if you find your body putting on fat while consuming moderate to high amounts, then perhaps your body is not tolerant to carbohydrates. This is when your body ends up using carbohydrates as the primary source of fuel to run your daily activities when ideally (on a fat loss program), it should be utilising your fat as fuel. If you have been perpetually high on carbohydrates, the best thing is to do a carbohydrate depleting program to shift the fuel source post training into fat utilisation then go into a low carbohydrate diet program again.
For the non carb sensitive individual, doing a program that seems high in intensity such as HIIT, though burns more calories, may not be the best from the start. Jumping into a high burning calorie program and not settling the underlying factors for glucose transport and utilisation is like kicking a can down the road. It goes away for a while, but the can is still there.
Therefore, doing a program like the one below helps to ensure that carb sensitivity is fixed first.
Program for the Non Carbohydrate Sensitive:
A1) Cable Press x 8
B1) Leg Extension x 8
C1) Lat Pulldown x 8
D1) Seated Hamstring Curl x 8
E1) Glute Bridge x 8
F1) Cable Curl x 8
G1) Rope Tricep Pushdown x 8
8 sets, 20s rest
The best fat loss program, period is one that takes into account where you were, where you are and where you need to be. Taking all these factors in mind can make or break the difference between having the most effective fat loss program or one that brings you further down the rabbit hole.
We hope that this article will help point you to what may be the most suitable for your journey.