Sunday, July 20, 2008

Toning, Light Weights, & High Reps by Craig Ballantyne

Toning, Light Weights, & High Reps
By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Turbulence Training for FatLoss

I guess you could say it is my mission to show people the value of intense strength training for fat loss.

Every month more research comes out to support intense training over slow cardio, and light weights. And each week, in real-life, more and more men and women (yes, women too!) see the benefits of pushing themselves with strength training.

The evidence from research and real-life continues to pile up that you need to put down those light weights and cut out those high reps.

Take really light weights, add in isolation exercises, and repeat for a large number of reps. Do this for 3, 6, or 12 months, and you're guaranteed to have the same physique you have today. This approach just does not work.

You need to step out of your comfort zone with strength training.

Research has shown using a weight that enables only 8 reps per set results in a greater post-exercise metabolism than using a weight that allows 12 reps per set. And this was in women! So lifting challenging weights is not just for men, but also for the ladies.

Another research study showed that a 30-minute, hard total-body strength training session can boost metabolism about 36 hours. You just don't get that from slow cardio or light, "toning" isolation exercises, I'm sorry to say.

But what if you are worried about "bulking up"? Just do one or two sets of 8 reps per exercise, rather than three or four.

Bodybuilders know that high-volume training builds muscle. But if you don't want massive amounts of muscle, just don't do a lot of volume. That's just one of the reasons I don't use bodybuilder workout programs for fat loss.

Another way to avoid "bulking up" while still boosting your metabolism is to use more bodyweight exercises.

As for exercise choice, say goodbye to biceps curls, hamstring curls, and triceps kickbacks. Seriously, I couldn't think of a more useless exercise for a fat loss program than triceps kickbacks.

Stick to full body movements. Use squats, lunges, split squats, pushups, chinups, rows, etc.

Remember, you don't have a lot of time to workout. So you can't be doing bodybuilding splits from the 80's that call for three exercises for the long head of the triceps, and two exercises for each of the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoid.

That's just not possible in the real-world. A pushup trains almost all those muscles, and more. It works your abs, chest, triceps, and shoulders. That's the type of exercise that is going to help you get more fat loss results in less workout time.

I train in the concept of a short time frame. That is, anyone that wants to use my programs has less than 3 hours per week to devote to structured exercise. So there just isn't much room for isolation training in that time frame.

But training should be fun too, and adding some curls as a reward for completing a hard workout is fine, but only if you want to. You don't need those types of exercises to get results.

But remember, isolation exercises are not actually going to burn fat, but they can build muscle and help you sculpt your body. Here's the list of methods that lead to fat loss, in order of importance:

i) Nutrition
ii) Burning calories with interval training
iii) Burning calories due to an increased metabolism from interval training and strength training (with multi-muscle movements)

As long as you understand that nutrition is the most important factor in fat loss, and that strength training is essential for sculpting your body, than you will have realistic expectations of success - based on how well you commit to each process.

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines and all over the Internet, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Turbulence Training for Fat Loss


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