When it comes to burning body fat, diet and cardio are definitely important, but the way you weight train can also have a huge impact on the amount of body fat you drop.
There are five main training variables you can manipulate to increase the amount of fat you burn when lifting weights. If you incorporate these variables properly, you’ll have a training program that simultaneously maximizes fat burn while building lean muscle and strength.
Here are the five burn variables:
Burn Variable 1: Exercise Selection
Research suggests that, compared to machine exercises or single-joint isolation moves, multijoint free-weight exercises such as the squat, bench press, shoulder press, and bent-over row maximize the number of calories burned. This is likely because these exercises use more muscle groups, specifically assistance and stabilizer muscles, that aren’t used with machine exercises. The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn.
Also, if weight loss is a goal, always opt for standing versus sitting exercises. A Brazilian study found that subjects performing standing barbell curls demonstrated a 10 percent increase in heart rate compared to those doing seated preacher curls. A higher heart rate can reasonably be expected to lead to greater calorie burning.
Burn Variable 2: Heavy Sets Burn More Calories…Later
Light weight and high reps is best for burning fat and getting lean, right? Well, this is partly true. Researchers found that when subjects used a weight that allowed them to complete 10 reps on the bench press, they burned about 10 percent more calories than when they used a weight that limited them to 5 reps.
On the other hand, research has shown that when you train with heavy weights that limit you to 6 reps per set, the boost in your metabolic rate is more than double the boost from using lighter weights that allow you to complete 12 reps per set, and the effect lasts two full days after the workout. This shows that when you lift heavier weight for fewer reps, you may burn fewer calories during the workout, but you’ll burn a lot more calories when the workout is over.
So, should you lift heavy or go light? The answer is both! I’ve designed a workout below that gives you the best of both worlds by using heavy weight for fewer reps on some exercises and very light weight for high reps on others.
Burn Variable 3: Ramp Up the Rep Speed
Research has shown that doing reps in a fast, explosive manner can increase the number of calories you burn by more than 10 percent, compared to doing reps in a slow, controlled manner. Fast-rep exercises have also been shown to boost metabolic rate after a workout ends.
Burn Variable 4: Pare Down Your Rest Periods
Researchers have discovered that rest periods between sets has more effect on calories burned during a weight workout than the number of reps. It appears that, regardless of the number of reps performed, the lifters burned over 50 percent more calories when they rested between sets for 30 seconds instead of 3 minutes. When subjects tried to increase intensity by performing 10 reps instead of 5 reps per set, they burned only about 7 percent more calories.
What does this mean for you? Even if getting lean is a high priority, you don’t have to give up your strength. You can still train heavy and burn more calories long after you’ve left the gym. Just be sure to keep your rest periods below 1 minute. Short rest periods will affect your strength somewhat on successive sets, but it’ll pay off with the extra pounds you’ll be able to lose.
Burn Variable 5: Unleash the Supersets!
When you’re looking to simultaneously burn and build, supersets, are, well, super. And the research backs it up.
Researchers from Syracuse University had male subjects perform two workouts that included chest, back, biceps, triceps, quads, and hamstring exercises. The first time, the subjects performed straight sets with a 1-minute rest between sets. The second time, they performed exercises back-to-back with no rest. The researchers found that the second approach burned 35 percent more calories per minute and 35 percent more total calories than the 1-minute-rest approach.
Feel the Burn Workout
Follow this workout program for 4-6 weeks. And don’t forget to follow a good diet while following this plan. You may be interested in intermittent fasting, my preferred style of eating.
Do all four workouts consecutively over four days. Rest on the fifth day, then start over on the sixth day and continue in this fashion.
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Begin again at Day 1
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.