It’s no secret this country has a weight problem. The incidence of obesity in the United States has skyrocketed from 13 percent to 37 percent over the last 50 years. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who are extremely or “morbidly” obese has shot from 0.9 percent to 6 percent.
Obesity-related diseases and health problems account for 61 percent of healthcare costs in the United States every year. These costs exceed $147 billion per year and it is putting a huge strain on the economy and the healthcare system.
U.S. employers are losing $164 billion in productivity each year due to obesity-related issues with employees. $6.4 billion is estimated to be lost due to employee absenteeism related to obesity. Obese individuals pay more than double for prescription drugs compared to individuals who aren’t obese.
Now, you would expect the Fitness Certification Industry to be a wealth of information regarding Fat Loss, particularly as it pertains to exercise program design.
Not so much…
I examined four of the primary Personal Training Certification Systems, each from ACE, NASM, NSCA, and ISSA. That’s a total of 2918 pages.
2918 pages!!! And only 57 were on fat loss. What’s more? 98% of it was nutrition.
Nearly 3000 pages of Certification material and only a few paragraphs on exercise program design specific to fat loss goals. Pretty lame stuff it is, too!
We’ve got an obesity related health care crisis in this nation and our top rated personal and fitness certifications fail to address the issue directly, especially when it comes to exercise programming specially designed for fat loss.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered 😉
So what is the Hierarchy of Fat Loss? It’s…
1. Nutrition is 80-90% of the equation when it comes to body composition and fat loss.
2. See #1.
Seriously. You simply can’t out train a bad diet.
So, what about exercise? What style of exercise training will melt the pounds off the fastest? Here they are in order.
- Metabolic-Resistance/Strength Training
- High Intensity Interval training
- High Intensity Aerobic Training
- Low Intensity Aerobic Training
Metabolic Resistance Training and Strength Training (MRT/ST) are at the top of the exercise pyramid. These are activities that burn calories, elevate metabolism and also maintain and/or promote muscle mass. If you have only 3-4 hours per week to work out, and you want to burn fat, use only this method.
Strength training, done right, burns more calories than aerobic exercise.
Strength training, by nature, will also maintain and promote lean mass and muscle. Your lean mass burns calories. When strength training is done in a certain manner (as in MRT), it creates what is commonly known as the “afterburn” effect.
MRT elevates your metabolism so your body continues to burn an increased number of calories even after you work out. All those extra calories spent come from fat. That is hard core science.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) includes activities that burn calories, and elevate metabolism. It is an exercise strategy that alternates periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods.
HIIT is a form of cardiovascular (heart, lungs, and circulatory system) exercise, so that the training mode is not necessarily geared toward building muscle or lean body mass.
However, these short, intense, workouts provide improved athletic capacity and conditioning, improved glucose metabolism, and improved fat burning. HIIT sessions may vary from 4–30 minutes. So, if you have 4-6 hours to train each week use primarily #1 with #2.
Next, we have two methods remaining and both of them are activities that burn calories but don’t necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism. These are High Intensity Aerobic Training and Low Intensity Aerobic Training.
The key word here is aerobic. The difference between aerobic and anaerobic is one of the key differences between the top and bottom of the Fat Loss Hierarchy.
Aerobic means “with oxygen, while anaerobic means “without oxygen.”
Anaerobic exercise is short-lasting, high-intensity activity, where your body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply available. Anaerobic exercise relies on energy sources that are stored in the muscles and, unlike aerobic exercise, is not dependent on oxygen from breathing the air.
Examples of anaerobic exercise include heavy weight-lifting, all types of sprints (running, biking, etc.), jumping rope, hill climbing, interval training, isometrics, or any rapid burst of hard exercise. MRT/ST and HIIT are both anaerobic.
Aerobic exercise comprises innumerable forms. Regardless of “intensity” it can be performed over a relatively long period of time.
So, if you have 6-8 hours per week to train add #3 (High Intensity Aerobic Training) beyond the 4-6 hours spent on #1 and #2.
If you have more than 8 hours to train each week then add #4 (Low Intensity Aerobic Training).
And really, who has more than the 3-4 hours each week to train?
Most people are lucky if they can manage to squeeze that much time in, so if that is you, and you want to lose fat, now you know the best training style to use.
Pity all those people of the dreadmill wasting their time trying to lose fat when it’s the least effective method.
So, chances are, you only have 3-4 hours per week. For fat loss and maintaining a lean physique, stick with Metabolic and Strength Training.
Of course, you still have to figure out exercise selection. While there is no such thing as the “perfect workout,” you still want to construct a well-rounded workout.
You’ll need to consider repetitions, sets, rest, timing, tempo, frontal movement, sagittal movement, transverse movement, quad dominant lower body, hip dominant lower body, horizontal push/pull, vertical push pull, rotation/anti-rotation, flexion/anti-flexion, bilateral/unilateral, contralateral/ipsilateral, compound movements, peripheral heart action, reciprocal muscle groups, periodization, etc.
You’ll also need to keep in mind that when you’ve done the same workout 4-6 times, with any decent amount of training experience, your body has adapted to the workout. So, you’ll need to keep mixing it up.
Of course, knowing a little bit about anatomy and physiology helps.
You’ll want to know which specific muscles you are working, and which bones they are attached to, and perhaps even how the energy systems inside your body work.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered 🙂
This is training you can take with you the rest of your life.