Strength Circuits for Fat Loss
Strength training is a vital aspect of fat loss. You may already know that, or maybe you are just finding that out now as you read this sentence.
Because your metabolism plays such a massive role in how many calories you burn daily, high intensity strength training is vital.
It helps you retain muscle while losing fat (extremely important for both men and women, regardless if your goal is to have a lot of muscle or not) and it places a high metabolic demand on your body.
Put simply, it keeps your metabolism moving fast and helps you burn calories at rest.
This is a major key, as DJ Khalid would say, in fat loss training.
What about cardio? Glad you asked.
Cardio, especially when it is done at a high intensity (think sprints, intervals, etc) is also an effective way to train for fat loss. Even low intensity cardio (think slower pace, like jogging or cycling for longer distances) has it’s place, though not nearly as effective.
The question I often get is, “Should I do cardio before or after weights?”
If I have to answer that, gun to my head, I’ll say do cardio after your strength training. Because strength training takes priority when training for fat loss, and retaining muscle is the name of the game, that’s the way to go.
Since there is no gun to my head, instead I’m going to say neither….or both.
Let me explain.
Cardio After Strength Training
Doing a strength training session followed by cardio is possibly the most common approach to fat loss training.
This is totally fine if you’re in no hurry for your fat loss progress. It’s also a great way to start out if you’re new to exercise. (I wouldn’t recommend anyone just starting out in the gym begin with the training I’m suggesting in this article.)
If you want fat loss in a hurry, and you’re willing to give 100% to get 100% back, then there’s a better way to do this, which we’ll get to in just a moment.
Some people can only get to the gym three times per week due to crazy schedules, families and other time restrictions.
If this is the case for you, that’s OK. You can still make great progress training three times per week.
If you aren’t limited in this way, you’ll want to ramp up your training frequency to at least four times per week with about an hour worth of added conditioning work throughout the week.
More activity means more fat loss, greater work capacity and quicker recovery.
Alright, we’re into the good stuff now.
First, here are a few considerations when building a strength circuit workout.
- The circuit should stimulate as many muscle fibers over your entire body as possible.
- In order to recruit the big powerful motor units/ muscle fibers, lift the weight as fast as possible, while lowering it in a controlled fashion.
- Lift heavy, staying in the 6–12 rep range (varying this throughout the week is a good idea as well)
- keep your rest periods short. I recommend keeping them between 35–45 seconds. This will suck at first, but you’ll quickly adapt.
In order to meet the above criteria, choosing exercises that train as many muscles as possible is key.
Also, be sure to choose between 2–4 movements that will cover as much of your body as possible.
Many people lose more muscle than is necessary during a fat loss phase. Choosing heavy weights, and lifting them fast is going to remedy this.
Here is an example of a strength circuit I designed for my wife last night.
The following circuit is done 4 times, with 45 seconds rest between circuits:
Barbell back squat x8
Standing dumbbell shoulder press x8
Kettlebell sumo deadlift x8
Underhand lat pulldown x8
Rest 45 seconds.
Admittedly, this is a very tough workout, and we extended the rest periods on the last set or two. Intention is key though, and with some time bringing the rest periods down to 35–45 seconds will be no problem.
Following the strength circuits, finishing things off with a short but powerful metabolic burst will shoot the effectiveness of your fat loss training through the roof.
This is a great replacement for hamster wheel style cardio because it’s faster, more effective, and places a higher metabolic demand on your body.
This means you’re burning more calories for up to 24 hours after your workout is finished as your body restores order and recovers from the workout.
The metabolic bursts to finish the workout are typically lighter and faster than the strength circuits, but they also stimulate your entire body.
Here’s an example.
Perform the following exercises 10 times each, then 9 times, 8 times, until you get to 0. Only rest when needed.
Push Ups x 10, 9, 8….1
Kettlebell swings x 10, 9 , 8….1
Conventional fat loss training is slow, inefficient and…..well….it just isn’t very fun.
Strength circuits are much more time efficient, effective and are very engaging. Enjoying your training is important, and this style of training is just plain fun.
If you have any questions about this, drop a comment below or shoot me a message.
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