Metabolic Boosters for Fat Loss
I first tested this hypothesis several years ago when training a few fat loss clients and found it to be truly effective. Over the past several years I find myself coming back to it time and time again to get incredible fat loss results with clients.
The hypothesis is that by adding a set of a metabolic exercise after a superset of opposing muscle group strength movements we could increase the metabolic effect of the workout and get faster and greater fat loss from the clients. It seems simple, yet I rarely see it happening in the fitness world.
I first want start with outlining the problems with this method.
1) It is TOUGH! That may not seem like a problem for you, but for many of our clients that aren’t used to pushing themselves into the realm of insanely physically uncomfortable this can be detrimental to their training. We don’t want to scare people off because the workouts seem too challenging to complete. We usually wait until at least phase 3, if not phase 5, of their program to implement this type of training. That means they have completed 8-12 weeks of training with us before we attempt to tackle these brutal workouts.
2) The client/individual must be adequately prepared to perform these workouts. This really ties into the first issue, but it may not be obvious to some people reading. If the person performing the workout has corrective or movement issues we WILL NOT ask them to do this type of workout. We must correct the movement issues before starting this program.
3) There are only so many metabolic type exercises that we can perform and we don’t want to over train any one. This can lead to overuse injuries due to the shear repetitive nature of the program. You might do 90 reps of an exercise in a workout. Pair that over the course of 4-6 weeks and the person planning the program has to pay close attention to the balance of the entire program.
4) The person will adapt to the workout, just like any other and this will become less effective over time. We use this for 4-6 weeks at the end of a 3-5 phase cycle of strength work that moves through different volumes and intensities. Ideally you could start a person in our phase 1 and move them to phase 5 ending with this type of program. When they complete this 4 week phase with metabolic boosters we would restart them at phase 3 and have them cycle through phase 3, 4, and 5 using different and progressive movements.
*It is important to note that a person will usually adapt to a rep scheme (4 sets of 8 reps) faster than they will the actual exercise or movement.
I honestly only need to outline one major positive factor with this type of program:
IT GETS RESULTS!
However, some of you need more.
1) It increases the work capacity of the individual which will only benefit them with current phase fat loss and also future program completion.
2) It elicits an amazing metabolic training effect (FAT BURNING) while also allowing the individual to work on strength to keep their lean muscle mass. This is an important factor in keeping your metabolism high while trying to burn fat.
3) The workouts can be completed quickly. With the short rest periods and metabolic emphasis these workouts usually take around 45 minutes. That is the perfect amount of time to get optimal results from a strength based program for fat loss.
4) We can change up the metabolic exercises each set, workout, or phase if needed to avoid boredom. I promise you that after doing 3 sets of 15 burpees at the end of each set for 6 sets you will be sick and tired of burpees. The results are not dependent on one or two exercises they come from the effect of the exercises.
When setting up this plan we follow our regular principles for designing a program.
We start with two core exercises or movements. These are completed as quickly as possible with as little rest as possible between the two exercises and between sets. We are focusing on our basics here- stability and stability with movement.
Some favorites- Plank variations (both front pillar and side pillar), Chops and Lifts, Rollouts, Anti Rotation Presses, Suspension training (knee tucks, pikes, saws etc.).
Once we have completed the core training we perform a single exercise set of an explosive or total body movement. My favorites here are Olympic lift variations, kettlebell movements, or complexes/combo movements.
Some Favorites- Hang Clean, Muscle Snatch, KB Snatch, KB Clean, KB Clean to Front Squat to Press, Turkish Get Ups, Barbell Complexes, Reverse Lunge + Cable Row, Squat to Press, DB Burpee + Curl to Press.
Now we get to the fun part! This is where the magic happens in the workout. This section of the program is designed to include strength supersets. We usually start with a unilateral (one sided) lower body paired with the opposite upper body movement. We pair split squat (quad dominant) with a row (upper body pull). We then pair a bilateral (two sided/leg) lower body to compliment the first exercise with the opposite upper body movement. So, a deadlift variation (hip dominant) with a push (either vertical or horizontal), such as a push up.
I really like starting the strength section with a unilateral lower body exercise for fat loss programs because of the time it takes to complete and the metabolic effect it creates when completing your bilateral lower body exercise. If you don’t believe me try starting with rear foot elevated split squats and then moving to deadlifts in your second super set. You run into a whole new set of challenges.
I like this for another reason as well. We don’t have to train the bilateral lift as heavy to get the same effect because of fatigue. Many times in this program you will be battling fatigue at the end of a workout and the last thing you want is incredible fatigue when deadlifting or squatting unless you are proficient in the technique. By fatiguing the muscles we can use a slightly lower load and still get the desired end result. This allows for the individual to maintain form and also remain safe during the final parts of the workout.
After you have figured out your program design for the strength super sets you will determine what metabolic exercises you will place at the end of each set to get the amazing fat loss results we are looking for with this type of program. When figuring out the volume for these exercises I usually take into account the exercises or movement itself and also the volume of the other lifts. For most metabolic exercises 15-20 is a great number, but for others we have to move into the 50-100 rep range.
Here are a few examples-
15-20 rep range- burpees, mountain climbers, jump squats, slams, bounds or any jump (might be less than 15), swings, sprints with bands or shuffles
50-100 rep range- jump rope, battling ropes, crawls, swings
You might notice that swings are on both lists. This is because it depends on the intensity of the swing and efficiency that each client has with the movement.
Those are a few examples of exercise choices and many of those have several variations. Personally I could jump rope, swing, burpees and do battling ropes all the time without getting bored and tired of the movements. I seem to recover well from these choices and can perform them at max intensity without worrying much about injury or aggravating a previous injury.
Here is an example workout start to finish:
1A – Two Point Plank x 20s each side x 3 Sets
1B – Feet Suspended Side Plank Variation- 30s each side x 3 Sets
As little rest as needed between exercises and Sets
2A – BB Complex – Muscle Snatch, Push Press, Front Squat, RDL, Bent Over Row x 6 reps each x 3 sets
30-60s rest between sets
3A- RFE Split Squat x 8each x 3 sets
3B – Chin Up x 8 x 3 sets
3C- Burpees x 15 x 3 Sets
30-60s rest between sets decreasing rest each week
4A- Trap Bar Deadlift x 8 x 3 Sets
4B- Spiderman Push Up x 8 x 3 Sets
4C- 50 Double Rope Waves – high frequency (small, fast waves) x 3 Sets
30-60s rest between sets decreasing rest each week
If you still need it complete a finisher of 15s work/15s rest Kettlebell swings for 8 rounds.
I am still fine tuning our beginner programs to include this same template but adding a metabolic booster to your workouts after each set has shown to drastically increase fat loss results!
Give it a try and let me know what you think.