When it comes to lifting weights for fat loss, many lifters have been led to believe false truths about this beautiful iron game.
In fact most lifters, who start to focus primarily on fat loss, make the classic mistake of lifting light weights for high reps, performing excessive “cardio”, and dramatically under eating (the infamous starvation diet).
And when that fat loss phase is over those lifters look in the mirror in shock!
They cannot believe that despite their efforts, they actually look like a smaller, weaker, and less muscular version of what they were at the beginning.
It does not have to be that way. Trust me when I tell you that there is a better way to ensure that you show up leaner, stronger, and proud of your body.
The first common myth that many lifters believe is that you have to do high rep sets and isolation exercises in order to get cut up.
Doing sets of 20, 25, or 30 reps is not what gets you leaner. Isolation exercises are great, but they should never make up the beef of a training program.
What allows you to show muscular definition and get leaner is your adherence to your diet.
The second myth is that you have to start doing excessive “cardio” and abdominal workouts to shrink your waist.
I’ve seen lifters camp out in the “cardio” section of a commercial gym for months only to look small, depleted, and flat at the end of their failed term.
Excessive cardio is not the answer when it comes to getting leaner. Again, adherence to your diet is the prime mover for fat loss.
I’ll tell you the truth, if doing ab workouts resulted in a smaller waistline and 6 pack abs, then most lifters would have a flat stomach like Jenny from the block. But the reality is that they don’t.
Training your abs to get them stronger is great. Training your abs in the hopes of flattening your stomach is completely insane.
All of these myths are smoke and mirrors!
How To Lift Weights For Fat Loss
NOTE: If your diet is not in order you will not get lean no matter what you do. Remember no one can out train a bad diet.
When I was young in the iron game I fell for the same regurgitated snake oil of lifting light weights and performing excessive cardio to get ripped.
I was unimpressed with my physique because I looked like a stone-cold rail at the end of the process. I did lose fat but at the same time the improper dieting and training also left me with less muscle.
Losing decent muscle mass is unacceptable and never the goal of anybody who is looking to build their physique.
There are two things that you need to do in the gym and with your conditioning to ensure you lose fat and not muscle.
1) Continue To Lift Relatively Heavy Weights
Many lifters who start a fat loss phase do not focus on lifting heavy weights. This is a mistake.
When it comes to lifting weights to lose fat nothing has to change on the lifting side of the coin.
Let’s say you built your upper body with weighted dips and weighted-chin ups.
Then you built your legs with hard sets of squats, deadlifts, lunges, and hip thrusts.
Why in the blue sky would you stop doing these things because you are now focusing on fat loss?
Many lifters get so caught up in fat loss that they forget about the other equally important part of the journey: muscle retention.
It’s hard enough in a fat loss phase to retain muscle when your overall caloric consumption is lower.
But your body will have to retain muscle in order to continue to lift relatively heavy weights. This is why you keep lifting them.
Now you might not be as strong as you were when you had more calories in your diet.
But you have to make the effort to lift relatively heavy weights to retain the muscle you have.
The same 3 rep, 5 rep, 8 rep, and 10 rep sets that you used to get bigger and stronger still work when your primary goal is fat loss.
The same squats, weighted dips, deadlifts, and weighted pull-ups that you built your body with still work.
Getting leaner is not a matter of light weight, high rep sets and isolation exercises.
The same sets and reps that built your body are the same sets and reps that will allow your body to retain muscle while you are cutting.
If you used 3-7 sets and 3-12 reps per exercise 6 months ago when you were focusing on building muscle then guess what? It will still work today.
2) Do Real Conditioning (1-3 days a week if needed)
Conditioning should be a staple in every lifter’s program.
The “cardio” section of a commercial gym is where lifters souls and passion are snatched out of their bodies.
I lifted weights at the commercial gym from 2002-2016 before I opened my own gym. I never saw any evidence, performance or physique-wise, that spending 1 to 2 hours in the “cardio” section was a good idea.
I also ran track in college and run track currently as a masters’ athlete. I consistently see plenty of evidence, performance and physique-wise, that sprinting is a phenomenal idea.
If you lift weights hard enough and frequently enough, you will have some good, built-in conditioning. And for some lifters, mainly the ectomorphs or mesomorphs, it’s possible for them to get pretty lean without any extra conditioning.
But if you want to speed up the fat loss process, be in better shape, and build mental toughness, you should absolutely do conditioning.
The mistake that many lifters make is that they start doing excessive “cardio.”
I’ve seen lifters spend 1-3 hours on treadmills and ellipticals in an attempt to get ripped. The process never works.
The better option for a lifter would be to perform 1-3 days of conditioning like sprinting or pushing the Prowler.
You will only need 10-25 minutes of sprinting or pushing the Prowler. If you do it right, you won’t have much gas in the tank when the workout ends.
Real dealers do conditioning. Fake hustlers do “cardio.”
Remember your diet is the key to you losing fat, not “cardio.”
If it ain’t broke, why try to fix it with some bulljive?
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,