Q: What can I do during my workouts to get leaner right now? I have some pounds to lose, especially around my middle. My goal this year is to see abs all summer, so I want to get rid of the fat fast.
A: You may be doing some of these things already, but here are our top-3 tips to ramp up fat burning in your weight-training workouts (of course, you also have to adjust your eating to make these tricks super-effective):
1) Fiber stress. As we’ve mentioned, heavy weights can produce more microtears in muscle fibers; that’s a good thing because as your body repairs that trauma over a number of days, it burns fat. Your METABOLISM is jacked and you get leaner fast. If you’re not into heavy training (we aren’t), do X-centric sets instead….
Those negative-accentuated (NA) X-centric sets create trauma in the myofibrils, just as heavy-weight work does. For those unfamiliar, it’s using one second to lift and six seconds to lower on every rep. The slow negatives give you more fiber trauma, which burns fat during repair.
PLUS, NA sets create a tension time of nearly one minute, which heightens tension time to ensure optimal anabolic-and-fat-burning hormone release—growth hormone and testosterone.
In other words, this style kicks your fat burning into overdrive with SIZABLE muscle-building effects as well. Use it primarily on the big, compound exercises for the most fiber activation, but don’t abuse it, as it will make you sore. We like NA on the last set only.
2) Muscle pump/burn. While NA sets provide that lactic acid pooling that torches your muscles, you will want to end your bodypart workouts with a big pump and burn. You can accomplish that with higher-rep sets on the continuous-tension exercises like machine flyes for pecs, pushdowns for triceps, and concentration curls for biceps (contracted-position exercises in Positions-of-Flexion mass training)…
Once again, you’ll get significant increases in growth hormone, with its mega fat-burning, muscle-building effects. PLUS, the occlusion, or blood flow blockage, from continuous tension has been shown to build more muscle and boost MITOCHONDRIA in cells. The mitochondria are the energy powerhouses in muscle cells that BURN FAT.
3) Afterburn. 15 minutes of medium-intensity cardio after every workout further primes your lean machine. That’s because doing weight training first empties your bloodstream of sugar, and you TAP INTO BODYFAT almost immediately during post-workout cardio. (When you do cardio on non-workout days, the beginning minutes burn off blood sugar rather than burn bodyfat—that can often take an extra 15 to 20 minutes.)
All of the above is why we include all of the above in our Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout—heavy sets, X-centric work, and high reps on the last continuous-tension exercise.
What about one of our favorite tactics, the 4X mass-building method? You can use it on the last continuous-tension (contracted) exercise instead of high reps. Also, a TOTAL-4X program is the perfect NEXT STEP after the heavier-oriented Fat-to-Muscle Workout…
In case you don’t know what 4X is, you pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again—and so on until you complete four sets. Go all out on your fourth set, and if you get 10 reps, add weight to that exercise at your next workout.
The short rests between sets will make you more breathless during your workout—but that’s a good thing. Fat is burned in the presence of oxygen, so the 4X CARDIO EFFECT will help you get leaner, boosting the mitochondria as well. Fat melts as your muscles swell—and girls can tell.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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