You could walk into most gyms in this country and observe a range of workouts taking place, from intense sessions to those looking like they are just trying to pass the time in between reading magazine articles or watching a program on TV. This leads us to an important question....
Q: What's the secret to fat burning and not spending your entire life in the gym?
A: The simple answer is to combine the following:
- proper nutrition
- portion size and meal timing
- adequate sleep
- managing stress levels, and
- some form of metabolic conditioning which leads to extreme fat burning
Although the first four fat burning secrets may not be self explanatory, I'll have to address them another time. For now, I'd like to explain what metabolic conditioning is, why it's so great and how you maximize your fat loss by doing it.
What's metabolic conditioning? It's short, intense training for extreme fat loss and time efficiency.
Picture this: A person is sitting on a bench performing alternating bicep curls with 10 lb dumbells. Most of their body’s approximately 700 muscles (this number is still up for debate) are at rest. The primary mover is one double-headed muscle in the upper arm, while a few small muscles in the forearms are being moderately stimulated. The person rests for a few minutes and then moves to another machine where they are sitting while pushing or pulling. After a series of machines and isolation exercises the person moves on to the “cardio” portion of their workout, a walk or light jog on the treadmill to stay in the “fat burning” zone. The workout spans for over one hour and includes chatting on the phone, watching a little TV and a lot of slow-paced isolation movements.
On the other side of the gym, we have a person who is doing compound (multi-joint) movements which involve several different muscle groups working simultaneously through a range of motion. So if you need to do that bicep curl, how about we add a lunge to it, followed by push-ups and then an assisted or jump pull-up (a much better developer of the biceps brachii and many other muscles in the shoulders, core and upper back). Get the idea? This person finishes off with Thrusters (a squat and overhead press) and a 2-minute run on the treadmill for the first round.
How many times would you be able to do this circuit in one workout? Well, that would depend on your fitness level - but regardless of the number of rounds you can do, performing that workout at a steady pace for 20-30 min (with quick breaks for water) would involve much more work volume than many people perform in an hour-plus workout.
So what does metabolic conditioning entail? The answer is not so simple but essentially it involves compound movements in a circuit-style workout format at a high tempo which utilizes all energy systems (aerobic and anaerobic). It affects the body on a hormonal level and the workouts are generally short and sweet leaving your body in a state of “metabolic chaos” where a lot of stored energy will be consumed in upcoming days for the body's recovery.
What makes it so great? Between your workouts you're burning more fat while you're sitting on the couch watching your favourite TV show! While some types of training boast more “fat burning” during a long training session, metabolic conditioning's fat burning is obtained in the following 24-36 hours of recovery where your metabolism stays elevated an additional 10-15% its normal rate. Do 4-5 metabolic conditioning workouts each week and turn your body into a calorie-incinerating machine!
In a nutshell: Integration not isolation.
Time commitment: 2.5 to 3.5 hours per week! Do you have time for that?
Pepe Picco is one of Vancouver’s top personal trainers, fat loss experts, strengthtraining and Nutrition coaches. Pepe enjoys coaching people of all fitness levels that want to improve their fitness. His company, Precision Athletics, provides one-on-one personal training, partner and small group training; as well as group classes such as boot camp, crosstraining & fitness and soccer conditioning.
If you live in Vancouver, try out a personal training session for free!