Looking Back, A Valuable Fat Loss Lesson

As shocking as it is, If the goal is short term, you don't need a special program to lose fat. Here's why

Hindsight is 20/20. That's something my mother told me when I was far too young to understand. After going through college I figured out exactly what she meant...other irrelevant stories. Looking back, there are a few things that I would probably change about the way I train clients. Here's a change I would make 

Focusing on Outcomes

When I started out of college, I was exposed to some programming that got some people some pretty good results within the first couple months of them joining the facility I was at. It was honestly nothing special. In fact, I was puzzled why it did work.

The program was very simple and rotated people through a circuit of exercises and machines. It was basically 3 days a week, a body part split that looked like this:

  • Day 1-Chest and Triceps
  • Day 2-Back and Biceps
  • Day 3-Legs

There was a repetition range that was advised and that was about it. People joined, went into the program and proceeded to get somewhat stronger for a time until that stopped a couple months later. They were getting great short termed outcomes, if they wanted to look significantly better-often losing up to 20 lbs in 6 weeks, that definitely happened but, they all hit a plateau quick thereafter.

It bugged me so I asked Bryan Mann who was at the time, Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning for the University of Missouri Department of Athletics, what was up with this? He proceeded to tell me something to the tune of, "If you take someone off of the couch and have them scratch their ass with a broomstick for 6 months they'll get results". I was blown away.

If the goal is short term, you don't need a special program

Now definitely a good program will probably get you where you want to be faster and more effectively but, if your goal is to look better in 6 weeks on the beach-then you may not need to learn the most effective exercises possible.

The Best Exercises Take Time

Too much time if your goal is coming right up. Throwing long term development out the window, if you want to look good in a bathing suit 6 weeks from now, you probably don't have enough time to learn the most effective exercises.

The better I get at coaching, the faster I can teach someone to perform an exercise but it's still not overnight. Take these two exercises and tell me which one is easier to learn:

  1. A Step-Up-typically done onto a box at about hip height. One foot up, step up, then back down.
  2. A Barbell Back Squat-the bar placement and form depends on the individuals measurements and makeup but it can sit on your back just behind your neck, feet shoulder width-or maybe a touch wider and when you squat down your depth will depend on how long you can hold good form.

By far the step-up is simpler. In the time it takes to setup and learn the squat, you could be performing step-ups long before and have been that much closer to your beach body. For simplicity lets compare the two exercises on a time basis. Let's say it take you 2 minutes to get the squat rack set up the way you need it to squat. 4 sets of squatting might take you 10-12 minutes.

In 10-12 minutes you could maybe get in 4, 5, or even 6 sets of Step-ups, burning more calories and still effectively working your legs. With the time you save you might have some extra time to do some seated band abductions and work your glutes. Now of course squatting will help improve your leg strength more but that's not this persons goal in this scenario

Make real changes

Let's blaze a trail to the healthy person you're ready to become.

Knowing Your Goal is The Most Important Step

If you don't know your goal, then you can't effectively evaluate your program. If your goal is to lose the most weight possible in the shortest time frame. You're going to need to do things that look a lot different from someone who has a goal of lifting the heaviest weight possible in the shortest time frame. Taking that into account, in the past I've spent time making sure people were learning the most effective exercises when I could have spent more time focusing on getting them to burn more calories in the short term which is often a goal.

Lesson learned! I'm actually looking to learn more all the time, I keep a wishlist of books these days that keeps getting longer. Up next is probably more about physiology or bio-mechanics-(movement).

You can start today

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