Full Body Training Part 3: Fat Loss

Full body training reigns king as the ideal way to quickly transform your body, as long as you know how to set it up correctly. In part 1 and part 2 I covered frequency, exercise selection and workout design, along with ways to design a program to build size or strength.
Now, in this final installment of my full body training series, I’m going to tackle fat loss. After all, that’s what most people need because a leaner body makes you look more muscular. Oftentimes, a guy will think he needs to gain mass to look more muscular, but in most cases, he just needs to lose fat. Women who want to get “toned” are simply saying they need to burn fat and build a little muscle – but that muscle must be in the right places to keep their curves intact.
The key to quickly burning fat hinges on the metabolic cost, a measure scientists use to determine how much an exercise disrupts your physiology. This might sound grim, but it’s not. The more you challenge your cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous system, the more energy (calories) it takes to restore that balance over the next 24 hours.
I’ll concede that professional bodybuilders often use body part splits to cut up. Why don’t they follow a full body program since it’ll work better? The answer is simple: bodybuilders don’t need full body training to lose fat since they’re the most diligent dieters in the world. Their fat loss comes from an insanely restrictive diet that 99% of the population could never follow for more than a few days (I include myself in that 99%).
Therefore, your training program must take up the slack where your diet falls short. To stimulate your body to burn fat, there are two things to keep in mind when designing a fat loss training plan, and both have to do with metabolic cost.
1. Boost the metabolic cost of each exercise: A workout is only as good as the exercises it consists of. To ramp up the metabolic cost of an exercise choose compound movements, lift as fast as possible, and use a load that’s heavy enough to stimulate all your muscle fibers (you can’t go wrong with 6-12RM range for fat loss).
2. Boost the metabolic cost of the entire workout: Once you incorporate the above three components to boost the metabolic cost of each exercise, you’re 80% of the way to getting the entire workout dialed in for rapid fat loss. The other factors to keep in mind are rest periods and total volume. The rest periods must be as short as possible, and the set/rep volume must be higher than it is for strength or hypertrophy training. (If halfway through the workout you think the rest periods are too short and the load is a little too heavy, you’ve got everything right.)
To clarify what I mean, I’ll use the chin-up/dip/deadlift circuit as an example. If your goal is to gain maximal strength, the load must be very high; therefore, the volume must be very low. You’ll need complete recovery before repeating an exercise in order to maintain your strength so the rest periods must be longer than what’s optimal for fat loss.
Maximal Strength
1A Chin-up for 3 reps
Rest 45 seconds
1B Dip for 3 reps
Rest 45 seconds
1C Deadlift for 3 reps
Rest 45 seconds and repeat 1A-1C twice more (3 rounds total)
For fat loss, you’ll need more reps per set, more circuits, and shorter rest periods. So that original circuit for maximal strength becomes an awesome fat-burning workout when you turn it into this:
Fat Loss
1A Chin-up for 10 reps
Rest 15 seconds
1B Dip for 10 reps
Rest 15 seconds
1C Deadlift for 10 reps
Rest 15 seconds and repeat 1A-1C seven more times (8 rounds total)
This, by the way, is similar to how I train my MMA client, Ralek Gracie. That’s why I always say that training like a fighter (fast reps, short rest periods, multiple rounds) is one of the best ways to transform your body.
Now, the above example doesn’t allow for complete recovery, even with a circuit-style of training. In other words, you won’t be able to complete 10 reps of each exercise in rounds 2-8 unless you decrease the load. As you know, my goal is to always keep the load as high as possible. So for rounds 2-8 keep the load the same as it was in the first round, but only do as many reps as you can.
The reps in each round will drop off, in other words. Here’s an example:
Round 1: 10 reps
Round 2: 9 reps
Round 3: 7 reps
Round 4: 7 reps
Round 5: 6 reps
Round 6: 5 reps
Round 7: 5 reps
Round 8: 4 reps
Of course, not all three exercises will drop of at the same rate, and that’s fine. It doesn’t matter how many reps you get as long as the load stays constant. The cool part about not having a target number of reps per set is that you’ll always be doing as much as your body can at that moment – no more, no less.
This is the most effective way I’ve found to train for fat loss, and that’s why it’s one of the primary methods I use in Body of F.I.R.E.
Two or three of these circuits per week is great for burning fat. Remember to use different exercises in each workout and vary the load. When the load is high the reps per set are low so you need more circuits. When the load is lighter the reps per set are higher so you need fewer rounds.
Here’s a sample plan for two workouts per week:
1A Bent-over row for 6 reps
Rest 15 seconds
1B Push press for 6 reps
Rest 15 seconds
1C Front squat for 6 reps
Rest 15 seconds
1D Ab-wheel rollout for 6 reps
Rest 15 seconds and repeat 1A-1D nine more times (10 rounds total)
1A Pull-up or pulldown for 10 reps
Rest 15 seconds
1B Clap push-up for 10 reps
Rest 15 seconds
1C Deadlift for 10 reps
Rest 15 seconds
1D Hanging leg raise for 10 reps
Rest 15 seconds and repeat 1A-1D seven more times (8 rounds total)
The other two workouts could be body weight circuits or GPP work such as sled pulls, sledgehammer work, sandbags, etc. Of course, you could add a third weight-training circuit and do one day of GPP as another option. Generally, I favor four workouts per week for fat loss (2 weights + 2 GPP or 3 weights + 1 GPP). If you want to train five times per week do three weight circuits and two GPP circuits.
Stick to these principles and you’ll burn fat and boost athleticism faster than ever before.
Stay focused,