How to lose body fat 1

Tip 1: Gaining or maintaining muscle tissue is imperative for long term fat loss and optimal body composition.

Any kind of muscle loss as a result of inadequate calories, improper training or simply ageing, will lead to a decline in metabolic rate which can slow, halt and even reverse fat loss. If you are losing strength and losing muscle then you will ultimately fail.


Let’s take 2 people:

Person A:

Exercises 3 times per week- Aerobic training- running, swimming and cycling only (burns 600kcal per session).

If this person were to exercise 3 times a week every single week of the year this would total 93,600kcal total expenditure.


Person B:

Exercises 3 times per week – Specific and structured resistance based training (not the stuff you see in your average commercial gym) and burns 450kcal per session- note that this is 150kcal less than Person B).

If this person were to exercise 3 times a week every single week of the year this would total 70,200kcal. This in fairness is 23,400kcal less than person A.

As a result of this training let’s assume this individual was able to gain 10lbs of muscle which would not be achievable with an aerobic based training programme. It has been estimated that an extra 1lb of muscle will burn an additional 50kcal per day.  If we take this to be true then after gaining this muscle metabolic output would increase by 182,500kcal burnt per year!


Let’s recap:

Person A:  Burns 93,600kcal a year. Aerobic training will burn body fat and is a fairly effective means to see short term weight loss. This type of training unfortunately results in very little change to resting metabolic rate.  Aerobic training is also statistically more likely to result in an injury, ranging from minor soft tissue inflammation to more serious injuries.  It is also more difficult to work around an injury when performing aerobic exercise (running, cycling, rowing etc.) than resistance training.  Statistically a large portion of this person’s training time could possibly be hindered by injury which would reduce the total calorie expenditure.


Person B: Burns 252,700kcal a year and burns 150kcal less per workout.   This person is able to burn almost 3 times as much energy over the course of a year and will have an improved body composition. Correctly structured resistance training is statistically the least likely sport to cause injury with rates as low as 5% whereas running holds an injury risk of over 30%.   10lbs of muscle mass sounds a lot but subsequent losses in body fat, which is a far less dense tissue, would result in a slimmer, firmer physique regardless of gender.


Summary:   If you have read our previous posts or have been following us for a while you will appreciate that fat loss is a far more complex system than a simple calories in, calories out model. As you can see from this simple mathematical breakdown, the odds weigh heavily in favour of resistance training. This is not to say that resistance training is the only way to train as aerobic training can be extremely effective when combined with a good resistance programme. The take home message?  Building muscle mass, or at least maintaining it, will result in a far greater chance of success! The traditional aerobic exercise model of training for fat loss is outdated.






Elitas Staff Arms Workout (31/12/2015)

We wanted to finish 2015 with a bang.  What better way to christen the new gym than with a team arms workout followed by a belated Christmas meal!  Here is a quick run through what we did with a few notes:


A1 – Bi acromial grip pin press with bands 4 x 3 (rest 2 mins)

Heavy pressing to stimulate high end motor units of the triceps and potentiate the remainder of the workout.  The resistance bands overload the top of the movement, resulting in greater recruitment of the triceps than a standard press.  The barbell was set up on pins a couple of inches above the chest and came to a dead stop between each rep.


A2 – Neutral grip chin up 4 x 3 (rest 2 mins)

Heavy pulling to stimulate high end motor units of the biceps and potentiate the remainder of the workout.  Extra weight was added using a dipping belt. 


B1 – Flat DB Press 3 x 8-10


B2 – Overhead rope cable triceps extensions 3 x 10-12

The extra stretch in the triceps from the overhead position is a nice contrast to the position adopted during the flat press and results in a lot more muscle damage.


B3 – Supinated chin up 3 x 8-10


B4 – 60O incline DB curl 3 x 10-12 (rest 2 mins)

The same idea as the overhead triceps work.  Positioning the upper arm behind the body puts the long head of biceps in a much greater stretch.


C1 – Standing BB curls 3 x 12+



C2 – Cable triceps straight bar pushdowns 3 x 12+ (rest 1 min)


D1 – Skull crushers with manual resistance 1 x 20

Using an empty EZ bar, the training partner applies manual resistance to both the eccentric and concentric phase of the movement.  The resistance varies throughout the set to work the muscles as hard as possible.


E1 – Standing BB curls with manual resistance 1 x 20

The resistance varies throughout the set to work the muscles as hard as possible.


The Importance of Physical Strength

Not so long ago, lifting weights was limited to athletes and bodybuilders.  Developing physical strength was not something that we, the general population, were supposed to be bothered about.  Keeping our bodyweight within a certain range and performing plenty of aerobic exercise is what was recommended to maintain optimal health.


More recently however, scientists have identified muscular strength as one of the strongest predictors of mortality available, as well as the dramatic effects of the age-related decline in muscle mass.  Inactive adults have been shown to experience a 3-8% loss in muscle mass each decade.  This decline is even more profound after the age of 50, when muscle loss occurs at a rate of 5-10% each decade.  This is a huge problem for public health because skeletal muscle mass has a very strong influence on many conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.


I have built a business with a primary objective of making people stronger.  As a by-product of this strength training, my clients improve pretty much all markers of good health.  They lose body fat, improve insulin sensitivity, improve flexibility, reduce joint pain and improve their ability to function in everyday life.


Looking first at obesity, the largest component (under normal circumstances) of energy expenditure is resting metabolic rate.  Resting metabolic rate is elevated in both the short term as a result of a weight training session (more so than traditional aerobic exercise!) and in the long term by an increase in muscle mass (or a reduction in the age-related decline).  The likelihood of the food you eat being stored as fat is also massively reduced if you are regularly stimulating your muscle fibres at high intensities.  This effect is even more profound if you eat a high protein diet.


Increasing muscle mass and making the tissue more active through weight training is also an extremely effective way to improve insulin sensitivity and prevent type 2 diabetes, an increasingly prevalent condition.  Weight training also provides the mechanical forces on bones required for modelling and remodelling, aiding the maintenance of adequate bone strength and density as we age.  Interestingly, the largest loads experienced by bones come from muscle contractions (tendons pulling on bone) rather than direct external forces (e.g. landing forces), emphasising the necessity of strength and muscle mass in the prevention of osteoporosis.


In addition to the specific contribution of weight training and muscle mass to the prevention of certain conditions, there is a more general requirement for muscle mass in coping with immediate illness and trauma.  When the body is in a stressed state, such as following an injury or fighting an infection or cancer, there is an increase in the liver’s production of proteins required for immune function and wound healing.  The building blocks for these proteins (amino acids) are the same as those which make up skeletal muscle.  In severe cases, the requirement for these building blocks massively exceeds the rate at which we consume them in our diets; therefore we begin to breakdown muscle tissue to fulfil the requirement.  So if there is already a shortage of muscle mass, as there is in most sedentary individuals, the chances of being able to fully recover from serious illness or injury is massively reduced.


The take-home message is that weight training should not be viewed with apprehension by the general public, especially women and the elderly.  Instead it should be acknowledged and utilised as the exceptional tool which it is in the fight against disease.  In fact, I believe that developing physical strength and lean body mass should be the primary objective of any fitness regimen.

Why Long, Slow Cardio Is Not The Best Way To Lose Body Fat

There is an extremely widespread misconception that the best way to burn fat is to perform long bouts of slow, tedious aerobic exercise.  Go into any gym and you will find countless overweight individuals plodding away on the cardio machines (treadmills, cross trainers, stationary bikes etc.).  If you return several months later, you will find the same individuals doing the same type of exercise with no real results to show for it.


Many of these pieces of equipment will even have a little chart on them showing you the “fat burning zone”, an area towards the lower end of the intensity scale.  The idea is that exercising at a low intensity for a long period of time is the most effective way to lose fat.  This is actually a misconception stemming from peer-reviewed sports science research.  The research shows that we burn the highest proportion of fat for energy at low intensities.  What this ignores is the total amount of energy required by the exercise and the amount of energy we burn once the exercise has finished.


A smaller percentage of something big can be greater than a larger percentage of something small!  Therefore generally speaking, the harder you train the more fat you will burn.  If we also take into account the additional energy we burn after the exercise, referred to as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) in the scientific literature, we can see that we burn more energy after high intensity exercise as well as during it.


Looking now at different modes of exercise, it is actually becoming more widely accepted that resistance training (repetitive exercises using weights, resistance machines, bands or bodyweight) is more effective for improving body composition than cardio.  The research shows that “EPOC” is higher after resistance training than after cardio (in fact, some studies have shown energy expenditure at rest to be elevated for several days after resistance training!).  Additionally, any gains in lean muscle mass as a result of the resistance training will serve to further elevate resting metabolic rate and improve markers of health such as insulin sensitivity and bone mineral density.  Resistance training also has a more favourable effect on our hormonal profiles.  Our bodies release Growth Hormone (a hormone which maximises fat breakdown) in greater quantities following this style of training, whereas long bouts of cardio leads to elevations in the stress hormone Cortisol.  Over time, a chronic elevation in Cortisol leads to fat storage (especially visceral fat, around the belly) and inflammation.


Losing weight is not an easy process for most of us.  It is therefore extremely important to utilise the most efficient training protocols possible.  This means ditch the jogging and aerobics and start training with weights or performing sprint intervals.

The Ultimate Muscle Building Training Programme

Muscle building is an extremely difficult thing to achieve for most of us, especially after the first six months or so of weight training.  There is a huge variety of training programmes designed to stimulate muscle growth.  What works best is obviously different for each individual: the volume and intensity required for optimal results is strongly influenced by muscle fibre type, body type, training history, metabolic rate etc.  Despite this, it is safe to say that effective hypertrophy training for most of us must involve compound movements (squats, deadlifts, pullups), high volume, relatively high reps (8-15) and therefore a lot of time under tension, and relatively short rest periods (30-120 seconds).


After a lot of experimenting, with both myself and my clients, I have been able to put together a very effective (albeit brutally difficult) training programme.  It is time to stop moaning about being a “hard gainer” and get a barbell on your back!  The backbone of the programme comes from a method of training known as German Volume Training (recently popularised by the great Canadian strength coach, Charles Poliquin).  Essentially this training method requires you to perform 10 sets of 10 repetitions of one compound exercise for each muscle group, using approximately 60% of your 1RM.  This is a huge amount of volume and not something I would recommend for the novice gym user.  The strength and co-ordination required to effectively perform the primary lifts must already be in place in order to avoid injury and reap the rewards of this programme.  The idea of the programme is to repeatedly fatigue the same muscle fibres and induce the greatest release of anabolic hormones.


The way I have formulated this programme is to split it into two upper body sessions and two lower body sessions, with the goal of performing all four workouts in series each week (alternating between upper and lower sessions).  Each lower body session is based around one movement and the upper body sessions are based around one pushing movement and one pulling movement (one day is vertical pushing and pulling and the other is horizontal).  The programme ends up looking like this:

Monday: Back Squats

Tuesday: Bench Press + Bench Row

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Deadlifts

Friday: Pullups + Shoulder Press

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

Perform 10 sets of 10 repetitions for each of these primary lifts, with 90 seconds rest between sets.  On upper body days the two lifts are performed as a superset.  Choose a weight that equates to approximately 60% (this will vary according to training history etc.) of your 1 rep max.  If you have chosen an appropriate weight you should be able to complete all 10 reps in the first sets then possibly only manage 8 or 9 in the final couple.  If you complete every rep of every set, increase the weight next workout.


As it stands that programme will work very well: extremely simple, brutally hard but very effective.  If you have the capacity to recover from that, add in a few sets of isolation work at the end of each workout (E.g. leg extensions after squats, flys and reverse flys after bench press and bench row).  If you are desperate for some direct arm training, ensure you keep it very low volume.  Biceps and triceps will get worked extremely hard by the pushing and pulling.


The only other work I strongly recommend is some remedial exercises to prevent injury.  For most people this will include extra scapula retraction work, lateral shoulder rotations, glute activation and some direct “core” work (some anterior core work can be useful to balance out the high volume of posterior chain work from the squats and deadlifts).  A good coach or physiotherapist can help you out with what you specifically need.


Putting it all together, here is an example of how it can look:


Monday: Squats

Exercise                            Sets         Reps          Tempo        Rest

A1 – Back Squat                  10             10               40X0             90 secs

B1 – Leg Extensions             3              15                2010             60 secs

C1 – Calf Raises                   3               12                2010             60 secs

D1 – Barbell Rollouts            3                10               4010             90 secs


Tuesday: Horizontal Push + Pull

Exercise                                          Sets       Reps       Tempo       Rest

A1 – Bench Press                             10             10              40X0           90 secs

A2 – Bench Row*                              10             10             40X0            90 secs

B1 – Cable Crossover                         3              12             2010             30 secs

B2 – Prone Flys                                3              15              2010            30 secs

C1 – Shoulder lateral rotation              3               10              2010            60 secs

*If your gym doesn’t have a bench row, substitute another row variation.


Wednesday: Rest


Thursday: Deadlifts

Exercise                                     Sets          Reps        Tempo         Rest

A1 – Deadlifts                               10                10             40X0             90 secs

B1 – Leg curls                               3                  8               20X0            60secs

C1 – Hanging leg raise                   3                   8              3010              90 secs


Friday: Vertical Push + Pull

Exercise                                      Sets         Reps       Tempo        Rest

A1 – Pullups**                              10              10             40X0             90 secs

A2 – DB Shoulder Press                10              10            40X0              90 secs

B1 – Lateral Raises                        3                20            2010              30 secs

B2 – DB Pullovers                          3                12             4010              30 secs

C1 – Cable Curls                            3                10             2010                 0

C2 – Tricep Pushdowns                  3                10             2010               45 secs

**If pullups are a challenge, try performing sets of 5.  If this is still too much, substitute for lat pulldowns.


Saturday: Rest


Sunday: Rest


This is an extremely taxing training programme.  Only attempt it if you are competent in the primary lifts and have no back or joint problems.  You must consume a lot of calories and plenty of protein to recover and see the results.  Rest days should be rest days (no cardio or sports).  I would also recommend you only try this out for a period of about six weeks and at a time you will be sleeping well and not experiencing a great deal of stress daily.  One last piece of advice – if climbing the stairs and sitting on the toilet are not a problem the day after your squats, you are doing them wrong…. Enjoy!

Top 4 Common Mistakes Made When Losing Body Fat

1>     Relying too heavily on aerobic training


Despite aerobic training being one of the most popular types of training (i.e. marathon running, jogging, cycling etc.), research has proven countless times that aerobic training is an inferior way of losing body fat when compared to high intensity interval training or resistance training.  Countless trainers and trainees have adopted aerobic training as a tool help to lose excess body fat, and this is a common error.  It is true that aerobic training burns a higher percentage of fat as an energy substrate during exercise, but the total fat breakdown during training and post training is extremely low. Aerobic training is also catabolic by nature (meaning that it burns muscle tissue) which leads to a reduction in resting metabolic rate and thyroid function, and can contribute to a loss of strength and various other negative factors. Consistent aerobic training will make your body more efficient at preserving energy which is the total opposite to what you wish to achieve when training for fat loss.

For superior fat burning results, opt for intense bursts of near maximal effort followed by low level recovery.  An example of this would be a 30 second sprint proceeded by a 60 second easy walking recovery.  You could then repeat this between 5 and 10 times.  More results in less than half the time.  What is not to like?


2>     Following a low fat diet


Due to the irresponsible marketing of low fat products and dietary regimes, many are led to believe that a low fat diet is necessary to lose body fat.  Once you understand the importance fat plays in hormone regulation you will realise that this is a major mistake.  All of the cells in your body are composed of fatty acids, such as Omega 3, including brain tissue and immune cells, which regulate and manage key hormones such as progesterone and testosterone.  These key sex hormones balance the effects of other vital hormones such as Insulin and oestrogen, which can contribute to excess body fat.  Low fat diets also contribute to insulin resistance, because of the increased appetite, and therefore consumption of carbohydrate-rich food (namely sweet food).  High consumption of these foods manipulates the way in which blood glucose reacts with various cell types.  Over time a high blood sugar/repeated insulin release will blunt the ability of glucose to enter your muscle cells.  This can increase the likelihood of diabetes and metabolic type diseases including cancer cells which multiply at a fast rate under high insulin loads.  This explains how some people can eat very little but still struggle to lose any fat.  It is typically because of poor quality foods as opposed to an excessive number of calories.   If glucose is unable to enter muscle tissue or liver glycogen stores, your body may create new fat cells where this glucose could be stored as fat. This is made worse by consumption of low fat products which are excessively high in sugar (Cue Weightwatcher meals, slim fast etc.). Aim for plenty of nuts, seeds, oilve oil, coconut oil , avocado, oily fish and  moderate consumption of animal fats. Not all fats are so beneficial to human health so make extra effort to avoid trans fats (found in cakes, biscuits, baked goods, processed foods etc.), vegetable oils, nut oils and excess intake of saturated fats.  Please note that eradicating all saturated fats is actually a bad idea (another post to follow).


3>     Eating poor quality food for breakfast


Everyday breakfast cereals such as Special K, Weetabix, coco pops, shredded wheat etc. contain exceptionally low quantities of nutrients.  Refined grains/cereals are a poor source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals to such an extent that the government passed a law during the 1970s which required manufacturers to add artificial B vitamins to the cereal grains because of population nutrient deficiencies.  Around 16 nutrients are removed during the refining process but only 5-6 nutrients are added back (these are artificial).  I found a packet of Cornflakes the other day with added vitamin D advertised on the front. They contained 25 IU of Vitamin D per serving which to the average person could seem a fair amount.  This is far from the truth as studies report we need between 2000—5000 IU of vitamin D per day for optimal health. This is another example of clever marketing which cereal companies are renowned for (sorry to disappoint you folks, Coco pops is not a rich source of B vitamins despite what Kellogg’s might say).

Common breakfast foods such as cereals, orange juice, toast etc. chronically elevate blood sugar and increase insulin which increases the rate of fat storage.  Some cereals, such as Cornflakes and Rice Crispies, can actually act like pure granulated sugar and are broken down at the same rate, creating massive surges of energy followed by a major energy slump (typically during the mid-morning break when your colleagues bring out the Krispy Kreme doughnuts).  Opt for nutrient dense foods such as eggs, berries, nuts, fish (Kippers, sardines, Salmon), good quality meats, Greek yoghurt etc.  Think outside the box (pun intended!).


4>     Disregarding digestive health


I personally believe this to be one of the biggest factors in ill health, appetite dysregulation, obesity and just about every disease known to man.  Our national love for sugar-based snacks, processed foods, calorie-dense meals, high stress jobs and foods with little to no nutrients etc. has thrown our gut ecology out of balance.  This is known as gut dysbiosis and is a leading cause of many debilitating conditions such as gastro intestinal disease, acid reflux, heartburn, constipation and IBS to name a few.  This means that our bodies will struggle to extract the nutrients from our food because of poor digestion.

Bad bacteria, which would otherwise be destroyed by sufficient stomach acid levels, is allowed to thrive, which can increase cravings for sugary foods and can decrease production of various neurotransmitters such as serotonin (a deficiency of which can cause depression). Gut dysbiosis can also adversely influence immune function, which can lead to increased inflammation in the body thus create a stress hormone response which increases the likelihood of metabolic dysfunction. To combat this common situation, ensure that you consume an adequate variety of nutritionally dense foods such as Garlic, onion, vegetables, fermented foods, live yoghurts, grass fed meats, fruits, nuts and seeds etc……  These amazing foods supply our body with the necessary nutrients, enzymes, and pro and pre biotic bacteria, which keep our gut ecology healthy and balanced.  If you wish to take this a step further, consider supplementing with HCl, digestive enzymes or probiotics such as acidophilus or create your own live cultures such as Kefir and Sauerkraut.


By David Cox