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Fat Loss For Advanced
(The most effective fat burning tactics)
By Tom Venuto
In this article, you will learn ten more of the
most hyper-effective fat burning tactics I’ve discovered from nearly 20 years
in the bodybuilding game and 16 years in personal training and coaching.
These are the same techniques I use to hit 3-4%
body fat for competition, and stay at 9% or less all year round, year after
year without difficulty. If you’ve already got all the basics covered and you
want to incinerate every last vestige of unwanted body fat, then this is the
information you've been waiting for!
DO CARDIO DAILY
If you progressively increase your cardio, as
needed, up to as much as 30-45 minutes a day 6-7 days per week for 8-12 weeks,
you'll get so lean, you'll kick yourself for not realizing it was that simple.
Now, I would not necessarily recommend starting
with this amount, particularly if you're a beginner. However, if you're already
exercising, but you're not satisfied with your fat loss, I highly recommend
that you slowly and progressively increase your cardio to the point where
you're doing it daily.
Every time I give this advice, I always hear lots
of whining and complaining. But why is everybody so cardio- phobic? Why do
people keep fighting the "daily exercise" concept when they've tried
"everything" else and they still can't get as lean as they want to
"But Tom, Bill Phillips says 20 minutes 3
days a week is the solution!"
"But Tom, doesn't daily cardio burn up
"But Tom, doesn't weight training boost the
metabolism more than aerobics?"
"But Tom, long aerobic cardio is out -
anaerobic and HIIT cardio is in."
People have plenty of buts. The irony is, they
spout off all these buts, and at the same time, they’re stuck and can’t figure
out why they’re not losing those last few pockets of seriously annoying body
fat. If you want to get really lean - get off your "buts" and do what
it takes to get the job done, not what the trend of the month dictates.
Let me ask you a question: When you read articles
or courses by the world’s best bodybuilders and fitness models, what is the
common denominator you see in nearly 100% of their pre contest preparation
programs? Yep - daily cardio - generally in the 30 - 45 minute range, and some
even do up to an hour a day (or more) during the precontest period.
If you want to know WHY frequent cardio burns more
fat, go back and re-read part three in this series about the mathematics of
calorie expenditure. You can read it here: http://www.leehayward.com/fat_loss_intermediate.htm
By the way, daily cardio is NOT something you do
all the time. This is a strategy you progressively build up to and use for
short periods in order to hit a peak, break plateaus and shed the last of the
Doing daily cardio year round leads to aerobic
adaptation. Cardio must be cycled, just like all other factors related to fat
loss. You increase cardio during periods when fat loss is desired, and reduce
cardio during periods when maintenance is desired.
By the way, 'no time' is not a valid excuse. I
know many people who get up at 5 in the morning to work out because it's the
only way they can fit it in their schedule. It's never an issue of time, it's
always an issue of willingness and priorities. Are you willing to do what it
takes for you to get the results you want? Are you willing to make it a
priority in your life? That's only real question you have to answer.
DO YOUR CARDIO FIRST THING IN THE MORNING ON AN
Fasted early morning cardio is still controversial
in academic circles, and some people are concerned that it might be too
catabolic and you may break down muscle along with the fat. However, my
experience and research has shown that while there are risks, fasted early morning
does work and the potential benefits outweigh those risks when maximum fat loss
is your goal.
But don't take my word for it - examine the facts,
test it while carefully monitoring body composition and lean body mass, and
decide for yourself.
The argument in favour of fasted early morning
cardio goes something like this:
1. After an overnight 8-12 hour fast, your body's
stores of glycogen are depleted and you burn more fat when glycogen is low.
2. Eating causes a release of insulin. Insulin
interferes with the mobilization of body fat. Less insulin is present in the
morning; so more body fat is burned when cardio is done in the morning.
3. There is less carbohydrate (glucose) in the
bloodstream when you wake up after an overnight fast. With less glucose
available, you burn more fat.
4. If you eat immediately before a workout, you
have to burn off what you just ate first before tapping into stored body fat
(and insulin is elevated after a meal.)
5. When you do cardio in the morning, your
metabolism stays elevated for a period of time after the workout is over. If
you do cardio in the evening, you burn calories during the session, but you
fail to take advantage of the "after-burn" effect because your
metabolic rate drops dramatically as soon as you go to sleep.
You can get more details about cardio training for
fat loss, including the surprising truth about the "fat-burning zone"
in chapter 16 of my ebook, Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle. Visit http://www.leehayward.com/burn_the_fat.htm for information.
REDUCE YOUR CARBS, BUT DON'T CUT THEM ALL OUT
AND DON'T STAY ON LOW CARBS TOO LONG
I'm not a big fan of very low carb diets (VLCD) or
"ketogenic" diets. Although they have worked for many people, most
people report that they make you feel like crap, you get "brain fog,"
you lose muscle along with the fat, and your training intensity suffers from
lack of muscle glycogen (even on a "cyclical" ketogenic diet). Low
carbs and high activity don’t go well together.
The worst side effect of the VLCD is one that few
people think of because it requires a long-term perspective and most people are
caught up in short term results:
For the average non-competitor, it's very
difficult to permanently keep the fat off if it’s lost through VLCD’s. VLCD's
set you up for a big rebound.
Bodybuilders often use VLCD's successfully before
contests, but bodybuilders are extreme athletes with incredible discipline and
willpower. I know bodybuilders who are so "hard core" that they can
eat nothing but tuna fish out of the can for 12 weeks, then go back to a
normal, balanced diet - no problem - no bingeing. That's a rare feat.
Lots of people lose weight on very low carb diets.
Few keep it off. I've seen people go on massive, uncontrollable binges of
doughnuts, pizza and Ben & Jerry's (Chunky Monkey!), gaining 30 pounds in
less than seven days after coming off a very low carb diet.
My friend, very low carb diets ain't the long term
solution to fat loss. To use one successfully without gaining everything back,
you have to know what you're doing and you must be extremely disciplined. Even
then, you should consider low carb diets as "last chance" diets or
short term "peaking" diets that are fraught with side effects and
The "balanced" diet, which contains a
wide variety of foods including about 40-50% of the calories from vegetables,
fruit, natural starches and 100% whole grains, is almost always the best way to
permanently lose fat and it's the way almost everyone should start. This is
sometimes referred to as a "baseline diet." All you have to do is
exercise, pick the right types of foods and eat less than you burn each day and
you'll lose fat.
Once you've mastered the basics and you've reached
the advanced stage, THEN I have to admit, despite the potential pitfalls, low
carb, high protein diets can help accelerate fat loss even more.
Almost every competitive bodybuilder I've ever met
uses some variation of the reduced carb diet. Why? Because reducing carbs
provides metabolic and hormonal advantages that high carb diets do not. They
also eliminate water retention and give the muscles a hard, dry look.
However, there's a right and a wrong way to do the
low carb diet. Here are the 4 "advanced bodybuilder's secrets" to
using a low carb diet successfully:
1) Don't cut out all your carbs, just reduce them
to a moderate level so carbs and protein are balanced and carbs are not the
predominant macronutrient. You don't have to cut carbs to next to nothing to
get low carb diet benefits.
2) Don't eat a lot of carbs at night, but DO eat
natural starches and grains early in the day and after your workouts
3) Don't stay on a reduced carb diet more than 12
to 16 weeks. Always go back to a more balanced diet because it's healthier and
more maintainable. Cycle diets like everything else.
4) Take periodic "carb up" days, or
"re-feed" days. This will prevent your metabolism from slowing down,
keep your thryroid functioning optimally and maintain your energy levels.
To learn more about how a "unique new
spin" on the old low carb diet can increase your rate of fat loss to the
maximum possible without muscle loss or metabolic downgrade, check out chapter
12 in my e-book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle:
RAISE YOUR LEAN PROTEIN AND HEALTHY FATS
Conventional bodybuilding and fat reducing wisdom
says you should eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight. This is good
advice for someone just starting to establish good habits and a baseline
nutrition plan. For a 172 pound man, that' s 172 grams a day, or approximately
30 grams per meal spread over five to six meals.
However, reducing carbohydrates can give some
metabolic and hormonal advantages for fat loss when it's done properly and not
taken to an extreme. When you start to bring your carbs down, something has to
go up or your calories would drop too low and you would be losing a primary
energy source. That something is lean protein and healthy fats.
Although many mainstream low carb diets (such as
Atkins) are actually high fat/very low carb diets, competitive bodybuilders
usually keep the fats moderate (20-30% of total calories), while eating
extremely large amounts of protein - sometimes as much as 40% or even 50%+ of
their total calories.
This appears to be an "obscene" amount
of protein. However, high protein diets are one of the secrets that
bodybuilders use to get so ripped. Eating very high protein speeds up your
metabolism due to the thermic effect of protein foods.
GET TOTAL CLARITY OF PURPOSE
To get super-lean, you have to decide exactly what
you want and zero in on it the way a guided missile locks onto its target.
The Great Napoleon Hill called it
"definiteness of purpose." Achievement expert Brian Tracy calls it
"clarity." Most of us simply know it as having goals, but I like the
terms "clarity" and "definiteness of purpose" better than
goals. Vague goals can be your downfall.
"I want to gain muscle and lose fat."
That's certainly a goal, but it's a poor goal
because it lacks clarity.
One of the biggest reasons people fail to move up
to the advanced level is because they can't decide what they want. They become
victims of "flip flop syndrome."
Imagine a captain giving no commands and just
allowing his ship to just float around rudderless, drifting wherever the
currents take it. Or imagine the captain giving instructions to his crew like
this: "go east; no, go west; no, go east; no, go west again."
Ridiculous right? But this is exactly what you're
doing when you have no specific written goals at all, or when you want to gain
muscle one day and lose fat the next (or do both at the same time).
You have to make up your mind! "A made up
mind attunes itself to tremendous extra power," wrote Napoleon Hill.
You must choose a definite course, make a
clear-cut, definite decision and follow through with action in one specific
direction. There must be no doubt. If on one hand you want to get ripped, but
on the other hand you’re worried about losing all your muscle, you will
unconsciously sabotage yourself every time.
For more information on a powerful subconscious
goal achievement system, check out chapter 1 in my ebook, Burn the fat, feed
the muscle: http://www.leehayward.com/burn_the_fat.htm
5 MEALS A DAY FOR WOMEN, 6 MEALS A DAY FOR
MEN.... OR JUST FUGGETABOUTIT!
Most fitness conscious people already understand
the importance of meal frequency, but they figure they can "get by"
with three "square" meals.
Comparing three "squares" to six meals a
day is like comparing a Porsche 911 Turbo to a Yugo. Yes, you can get some
results with three well constructed meals, but you'll never get anywhere near
your maximum potential (and it will take a lot longer).
The benefits of frequent eating include:
a. Faster metabolic rate
b. Higher energy levels
c. Less storage of body fat due to smaller portions
d. Reduced hunger and cravings
e. Steadier blood sugar and insulin levels
f. More calories usable for muscle growth
g. Better absorption and utilization of nutrients
If you want to move up to the advanced level and
get super-lean, you have to take advantage of every weapon in your fat burning
arsenal. That means five or six small meals a day, or else, as Al Pacino would
say, just fuggetaboutit!
GO EASY ON THOSE PROTEIN BARS AND MEAL
REPLACEMENT SHAKES - FOCUS ON REAL FOOD
My clients just hate me when I take away their
cookies n cream protein bars and chocolate shakes, but when they're eating only
one or two food meals per day and using four or five meal replacements and
wondering why they aren't getting leaner, I have to give them my lecture on the
thermogenic effects of whole foods versus liquid calories and protein (candy)
If you want to get lean, don't drink too many of
your calories and lay off those bars! Due to the thermic effect, whole food
gets you leaner. Use supplements for convenience, not as the primary source of
your calories. Chapter 15 in my e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle, explains
in much greater detail what the supplement companies hope you never find out: http://www.leehayward.com/burn_the_fat.htm
HIIT THE FAT!
High intensity interval training, known as HIIT
for short, is the technique of alternating short (usually 30-60 second) periods
of very high intensity cardio with short periods of low to moderate intensity.
HIIT Workouts generally last only 15-25 minutes, total.
HIIT has received a lot of press lately as being
superior to steady state exercise. In some ways, it IS superior: HIIT burns a
lot of calories during the workout, but where it really shines is after the
workout. Your metabolic rate stays elevated longer after the workout is over
than steady state, low intensity cardio.
Here's an example of an ascending 21 minute HIIT
workout on the Lifecycle stationary bike:
Level 3: 5 minutes (warmup)
Level 5: 1 minute (work interval)
Level 4: 1 minute (recovery interval)
Level 6: 1 minute (work interval)
Level 4: 1 minute (recovery interval)
Level 7: 1 minute (work interval)
Level 4: 1 minute (recovery interval)
Level 8: 1 minute (work interval)
Level 4: 1 minute (recovery interval)
Level 9: 1 minute (work interval)
Level 4: 1 minute (recovery interval)
Level 10: 1 minute (work interval - maxed out)
Level 3: 5 minutes (cool down)
This is just an example of course; you'll need to
adjust the workout based on your fitness level. You can adjust the duration of
the intervals, the number of intervals performed and the difficulty level. You
can perform similar workouts on almost any piece of cardio equipment.
HIIT is often touted as a superior fat burning
method, but it really depends what you’re comparing it to. When compared to low
intensity, long duration cardio (as it frequently is), HIIT wins hands down.
Low intensity cardio like casual walking is never the best way to lose fat,
except for beginners who are not physically prepared for high intensity yet.
If your intensity is moderate to moderately high
and held steady for a long duration (30-45 min), then you’re likely to burn
more fat with this approach than you would in a 15-20 minute HIIT workout.
(Post workout calorie expenditure is relative to exercise intensity AND
duration). However, if the intensity is high enough, you can get a very time
efficient workout in a relatively short period of time using HIIT.
HIIT works, but it's not a panacea. What's most important
for fat loss is that you burn a lot of calories with moderate to high intensity
cardio. My best advice is to use BOTH forms of cardio training, leaning towards
HIIT when you're short on time or when you’ve plateau’d on moderate, long
duration cardio for a long period. Remember, your body adapts to everything.
DO ALL YOUR CARDIO HARDER
Here's an idea that might shatter every paradigm
you ever had about cardio training. HIIT is very trendy these days, so if
you're trying to lose fat, and you're wondering whether you should do short
duration high intensity or long duration, low intensity, the answer might be
The most effective workout is long duration, high
Provided that you are healthy, you have received
your doctor's approval to do high intensity exercise, and you have already buit
a substantial base level of aerobic fitness, then gradually push up your
intensity to the highest level you can hold steady for the entire duration of
your cardio workout, whether that is 20 minutes, 30 minutes or even 45 minutes.
In other words, no coasting! Put the cell phone
and magazine away and do a real, killer cardio workout. Your body will get
leaner... by the DAY!
Of course, intensity and duration are inversely
related so technically you can't do long duration and high intensity, but what
we’re talking about is to do as high as an intensity as you can for a longer
period. A proper name for this type of cardio would be "moderately high
intensity" (MHI) cardio.
USE THE ADVANCED THREE DAY SPLIT ROUTINE
As a beginner, you started on a full body routine.
When you graduated to intermediate status, you moved to a two day split
routine. Now you're ready for the advanced three day split. This split is
excellent for genetically gifted trainees with good recuperation abilities:
Day 1: Chest, Back, Abs
Day 2: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps
Day 3: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves
The 2 on 1 off weekly schedule
Mon: Chest, Back, Abs
Tue: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps
Wed: Off (cardio only)
Thu: Quads, Hamstrings calves
Fri: Chest, Back, Abs
Sat: Off (cardio only)
Sun: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps
Pick up with Quads & Hams Monday and repeat
the cycle. A more conservative version of this split is: 2 on 1 off, 1 on 1
off, 1 on 1 off, and for maximal recuperation, this split can be done every
I have a lot more fat burning tricks in my BURN
THE FAT arsenal, but that's all for now. With this information you've learned
from this entire series, you have enough tools that - if you apply them
diligently - you can get as lean as you want to be, whether that's just
tightening up those "mushy spots", or getting as lean as a
bodybuilder or fitness model.
If you missed the first parts of this series, they
are archived on my fitness renaissance website here:
Fat Loss For Beginners at: http://www.leehayward.com/fat_loss_beginners.htm
Fat Loss For Intermediates at: http://www.leehayward.com/fat_loss_intermediate.htm
Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer,
gym owner, freelance writer, and author of “Burn The Fat, Feed
The Muscle”: Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders
and Fitness Models. Click here to visit Tom's Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle website.