Three Fat Loss Programming Principles to Guarantee Success

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It is the key to success for most trainers, coaches and fitness professionals that work with clients on a daily basis.

It is a factor that can set you apart from the competition.

It gives the person that is working towards their goals an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

We are talking about designing a training program that gets the fastest possible results.  The one that doesn’t require hours upon hours in the gym each week to see little to no progress week after week.

I will be the first to tell you that there are many ways to get great results.  My way isn’t the only way; however they work best with the people we see on a daily basis.

I have designed thousands upon thousands of fat loss programs and workouts.  It hasn’t always been easy and there have been times when I have struggled with finding the best plan for a client.

Over time it has become much easier and I love trying to figure out new ways to achieve great things with the people we work with.

This blog post is geared towards both our fat loss readers that do some workouts on their own, those that come to the gym to get our help, and also the other fitness professionals that read our blog for advice.

I have three principles that I follow when designing a program for maximal results in minimal time.  They are simple and effective just like most of our programming.   When planning out your own workouts it is key that you make sure your plan follows these three principles to get the most out of your workouts.


1)      Exercise pairing- When planning workout almost all of them utilize an exercise pairing of some sort.  It might be a super set (2 exercises paired together) or a circuit of 8 exercises.  The trick to this is planning them out in the workout so that they don’t interfere with recovery and they produce the metabolic effect that we are trying to achieve.


When using super sets, usually in a strength training session or interval training with short rests (like a tabata style workout) we try to pair our exercises with two things in mind.  We use one lower and one upper body exercise and we use different sides of the body.

Example:  Deadlifts and Push Ups

The deadlift is our lower body lift that focuses on the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and upper back).  The push up is our upper body exercise that focuses on the opposing muscle groups (chest, triceps, core, etc).

When pairing up exercises like this we can utilize short rest periods because the muscles we use in one exercise can recover when performing the second exercise.  However, our body never gets a chance to completely recover.  This allows us to achieve an amazing metabolic effect that gets great results.

When we set up circuits or interval training for 20-30 minute workouts we usually pick 5-8 exercises that will complement each other.
We will alternate between lower body and upper body, mixing in some metabolic exercises (burpees) to get the result we want.  We strive for balance in our programs as well.  We will match any pushing with a pulling and always have a core training component into our workouts.


An example might be:

1)      KB Snatch

2)      Alternating Reverse Lunge

3)      Spiderman Push Up

4)      Suspended Row

5)      Burpee

We would do this for 30s of work followed by 30s of rest for 4 rounds.  That is a 20 minute workout and would get great results.

When first trying to balance out your programs it can be a challenge but over time it gets much easier.


2)      Mixing it up- Our second principle is mixing up the sets, reps and rest periods over the course of time to get great results.  The body will quickly adapt to the sets and reps of your workout.  It is important to remember to constantly challenge yourself by increasing your weight or progressing within your program.


To ensure that people are making the changes needed to get great results we frequently change the workouts.  Usually for our strength based workouts we change every 4-6 weeks.  This allow you to see progress and get used to the new movement, yet keeps enough variety to not get bored and always challenge you.


We usually have different interval workouts during the week and utilize many work/rest interval pairings to get the most from our clients.  It isn’t uncommon for us to use 4-5 different interval breakdowns during our boot camps to get the most out of it.   We will keep these different interval protocols in effect for 4 weeks before changing up movements and intervals.


When you use this principle with the exercise pairing rules you can keep the work to rest intervals at 1:1 or even 2:1 and still get the intensity and quality of workout that is needed for great results.


Some of my favorites are 15/15 x8 with 6os rest, 30/30, and 40/20.   The first number is the work and the second is the rest.   A 30/30 ten exercise circuit performed for 3 sets is a killer quick workout.


3)      Our final principle is intensity.

This might be the toughest thing to accomplish and learn. While it is important to push yourself and work as hard as possible, we also must understand that pushing too hard too soon can have detrimental effects.

The other side of this is determining the intensity of each exercise.  Before we plan our workouts we determine our set and rep protocol or work and rest intervals before planning the exercises.  This allows us to choose the exercises based on the intensity required.   A set of 20 lunges might not be appropriate but a set of 20 split squats could be.   It is important and a common mistake to choose the exercise before the sets/reps.  We have to take into consideration the intensity required and desired results.

This is part of the art of coaching (yourself and others).  We have to be able to read our bodies and watch our clients to ensure they are working as hard as possible in a safe manner.  There are plenty of programs out there that encourage people to push out of their comfort zones and into a danger zone.  There is a fine line that you must walk if you are going to get amazing results, but we can’t cross that line.   When you do injuries and accidents happen.

I always encourage people to start off on the cautious side and focus on performing the movement or exercise perfectly.  Most of the time this will prove to be an amazing challenge for them.   Enough to get the great results we are looking for.  If we pushed them past this point they do not possess the body awareness to understand when to pull back and when to push forward which will lead to an injury or soreness severe enough to hinder their following workouts.

Once you have established a base we can understand more about our bodies and what we are capable of accomplishing.  It is at this point that we can push ourselves right to limits and know when we need to pull back.

For coaches and trainers this takes time to learn.  It takes working with thousands of people to understand how to motivate and inspire in a safe way.  I can assure you that it is always better to error on the side of caution and enable clients to see success without injuring or scaring them.

For those working out on your own you also must take the time to learn how to perform exercises and understand how your body reacts.  You will quickly become aware of what you are capable of and you must challenge yourself.

The goal is to push our bodies as hard as possible in a safe way to get the most out of each session.


Using these three principles you can design a workout anywhere at any time to get great results.  We do it daily for all of our clients and for ourselves.



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  • barb

    Great article! Thanks!

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