PART 3 OF 4: FOCUS ON FAT BURNING
BALLISTIC BURN * SUPER 8 TRAINING * UNILATERAL FORCED REPS
Submitted By Timothy Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT
Ultimate Fitness Events (UFE) is pleased to bring to you the third in our four-part series on specialty training techniques. These are a series of workout protocols that deviate from the norm to produce exceptional results by stimulating your muscles in unconventional ways such that they don’t adapt and stagnate. Our first two installments discussed specialty techniques centered on leveraging exercises, sets, reps and rest periods for the purpose of muscle building. This month, it’s all about the fat burning.
Just a minute, you say… fat burning from weight training? Absolutely. And this can be accomplished in a sustained way too; that is, not just for when you’re actually training, but also in the ensuing hours afterward. Losing fat and looking shredded is the universal goal of all competitive athletes, be they in the Bodybuilding, Physique, Classic Physique, Figure, Fitness Model, Bikini or Glamour categories. But no matter who you are, fat burning from training is not just about performing cardio ad nauseam. While the following resistance training techniques employ varying degrees of sets/reps schemes, they all have in common the fact they are wide-ranging, up-tempo workouts that initiate better growth hormone (GH) release than conventional training.
Why is this important? Because the more GH you can produce, the better your fat-burning results will be; numerous scientific research studies have demonstrated this. One such study is “Acute hormonal and neuromuscular responses and recovery to forced vs maximum repetitions in multiple resistance exercises” by Ahtiainen et al. which appeared in the International Journal of Sports Medicine. You may have thought GH is just for building muscle, but in fact the influence it has on your metabolism and fat loss is also significant.
As always, it’s smart to employ one of these techniques for a period of four to six weeks, then switch up to another method to avoid adaptation. We hope they produce excellent fat burning results for you!
It took the mainstream fitness world several decades to appreciate the fact that one can absolutely burn more calories, destroy fat and stoke one’s metabolism by performing weight training. Theretofore, it was generally accepted that lifting weights simply builds muscle and doing aerobic/cardio training torches fat. (If you happen to be a Novice to fitness, this may in fact be the first axiom in which you’re indoctrinated). But we’re pleased to have the opportunity to eradicate any erroneous notions you may have about how the body responds to different forms of training. Our first specialty technique known as Ballistic Burn is based on the scientifically proven concept that you can definitely shred more fat by lifting weights in a particular manner.
To optimize the efficiency of your calorie burn, you want to get your whole body involved and use as many muscle groups as possible simultaneously. To that end, you’ll commence your Ballistic Burn workout with one of the heavy compound moves, such as the three powerlifts (squat, bench press and deadlift). Once you’ve selected such a move, you’ll load up the weights and perform it for low reps using explosive power from your fast-twitch muscles; to be sure, the fibres of these muscles are the most efficient at burning calories. It’s not difficult to observe and appreciate that increased effort (work) in a short space of time consumes calories the most efficiently.
The next two or three exercises will not require you to use your entire body, but they will still be multi-joint movements for efficient calorie burn. The preferred protocol with these exercises is to use sub-maximal heavy weight for moderate reps, which is an excellent foundation for continuing the calorie burn well after you’ve finished training. As you reach the completion of this workout, you’ll perform one or two refining moves at your discretion using a scheme of lighter weights for high reps. And we mean high reps – think along the lines of 20-25 reps per set to burn substantial calories intra-workout and elicit an incredible finishing pump.
As you can imagine, you’ll need to keep your rest periods brief here; in fact, equally shorter for all moves compared to what you’re accustomed. As such, don’t worry if the resistance you’re capable of using is less than you’re used to. The emphasis here is on calorie and fat burn, both during the routine and for the hours afterward.
Sample Ballistic Burn Workout (Chest):
|BENCH PRESS||3||6, 6, 5||1:00 min.|
|SMITH MACHINE DECLINE PRESS||3||8, 7, 6||45 secs.|
|INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS||3||8, 7, 6||45 secs.|
|DUMBBELL FLYE||3||8, 7, 6||45 secs.|
|CABLE CROSSOVER||3||25, 20, 20||30 secs.|
SUPER 8 TRAINING
A second nifty weight-training workout that results in great calorie expenditure with awesome fat burning is the Super 8 method. As the name implies, compound supersets are involved, as is a battery of eight sets (with very little rest) on the last exercise of the workout. To those in the know, the ‘8’ sets requirement does indeed apply to… you guessed it… tabatas. More on this below.
To begin the workout, you’ll be performing not just one, but two compound supersets for your target muscle group. The term ‘compound’ refers to exercises that complement each other working the same muscle group, whereas if you see the label ‘supersets’ by itself, this refers to exercises for opposing muscle groups. The Super 8 method is not only a great calorie burner, but also has a strategic protocol that induces a great deal of muscle stimulation as it’ll be something to which your muscles are not accustomed at all.
The first exercise in the first compound superset per muscle group will use a multi-joint exercise with a relatively heavy resistance for a low number of reps. The second exercise will conversely be an isolation move that employs a lighter weight that you’ll perform for a higher number of reps. As with all supersets, you’ll proceed directly from the first movement to the second without any rest. Having completed three sets of the first compound superset, you’ll then perform another one – but in this case, the order of the exercises will be reversed. This time, the first exercise will be a lighter weight, usually an isolation move, for higher reps; the second move will be a compound move with heavier resistance for fewer reps. This is essentially a pre-exhaust pairing contained within a larger workout.
Lastly, you’re going to really transform weight training into an explosive aerobic performance by completing a tabata. That is, for the exercise involved, you’ll do eight sets as explosively and rapidly as you possibly can for 20 seconds. After each set, you’ll then rest for just 10 seconds and continue to the next set. Yes, eight times. You’ll be gassed, that’s for sure – but you’ll really ignite a serious calorie burn and muscle growth spark.
Sample Super 8 Workout (Back):
|BENT-OVER ROW||3||8, 6, 6||—|
|STRAIGHT-ARM PULLDOWN||3||15, 12, 12||1:00 min.|
|REVERSE-GRIP ROW||3||15, 12, 12||—|
|LAT PULLDOWN (WIDE-GRIP)||3||8, 6, 6||1:00 min.|
|KETTLEBELL CLEAN||8||20 secs*||10 secs|
*Perform as many repetitions as you can in 20 seconds, using good form with a full range of motion.
UNILATERAL FORCED REPS
One more very effective weight-training specialty regimen you can employ for both building muscle and torching substantial fat is unilateral forced reps. Now many athletes new to competition get put off the notion of forced reps because (1) it’s a grind; and (2) it requires a partner, which is less than convenient. In this day and age of independent athletes doing it all on their own, forced reps is unfortunately widely ignored. However, there is a great way to still perform them (and derive all their benefits) by making good use of the equipment you have available to you.
To tackle this program, consider the fact that there’s no law stating you have to perform all weight-training exercises bilaterally. That is, you don’t have to perform the leg press or leg extension with both legs, nor do you have to perform the preacher curl with both arms. When you think about it, dumbbells wouldn’t even exist if every exercise was done with both limbs together, as opposed to just one. Machines and cables also carry the purpose of being able to be performed unilaterally. Perhaps you never considered the fact you can do a lat pulldown with just one arm since it never seems to be done, but so what? Provided you use good form (and understand that balance is essential), it can absolutely be very effective.
Now that you understand the ‘unilateral’ part of this approach to training, let’s look at the forced reps element. Simply put, this means carrying on with an exercise and performing extra repetitions after you hit the point of failure. For those 2-limb movements like the bench press or squat, you’ll definitely need the use of a spotter, but if you’re looking to do avoid needing another person to help you, forced reps can be applied unilaterally. How? Simply use your non-working limb to assist the working limb in completing extra repetitions. Going back to the preacher curl example, if you do this with one arm and hit failure, bring your other arm over to assist. It’s that simple.
Sample Unilateral Forced Reps Workout (Legs):
|SMITH MACHINE ONE-LEG SQUAT||3||6 + 2||1:30 mins.|
|ONE-LEG PRESS||3||8 + 3||1:30 mins.|
|ONE-LEG EXTENSION||3||10 + 3||1:00 min|
|ONE-LEG LYING HAMSTRING CURL||3||10 + 3||1:00 min|
|ONE-LEG SEATED CALF RAISE||3||12 + 3||30 secs.|
*The first number prescribed is how many reps you should perform to exhaustion; that is, you’ll fail if you did one more rep. The second number represents forced reps using assistance from your opposing limb.
There’s much to keep in mind when you use the above training protocols as part of your fat-burning efforts. First and foremost, set your mind to an attitude of energy. That is, be prepared for a lot of work with very little rest – in fact, none at all in the case of compound supersets, and only 10 seconds in the case of tabatas. In less formal language, you’re gonna sweat and pant hard, and your heart rate is going to soar, so be ready. Slam back some java and crank your tunes – there’s nothing that says you can’t have fun while you’re working hard.
Pay attention to the weight you’re using and appreciate that in many cases it will have to be less than what you’d normally lift. When you perform the second exercise in a compound superset, having just worked the same muscle group with another exercise, you’ll naturally be unable to lift the same amount as if you had done it exclusively. Furthermore, when performing unilateral moves, it’s not simply a matter of dividing the weight you use with two limbs in half. You’ll need to drop it even lower, because when you use two limbs you also incorporate a lot of stabilizer and assistance muscles which allow you to lift more than double what you can lift with just one limb.
Finally, be patient when it comes to performing unilateral movements. Yes, it will take twice the amount of time because you’re working one arm or leg first, then doing the other side. So it’s best to just accept that your workout will be longer, even in spite of shorter rest periods. But you know what they say about hard work – it produces the greatest results. We encourage you to get on board with the idea that weight training can be performed with the strategic goal of burning fat, so these are three excellent approaches to use – especially in the one or two months leading up to the date of your competition when you’re peaking to look your best.