My wife has recently been losing fat – getting rid of the
She looks great.
Sure, she’s not happy with how she looks yet, but even
by her own admission she’s come a long way in the last
month. And this without a whole lot of sleep, as our
daughter seems to be struggling with her sleep schedule
You might think she’s doing some kind of hardcore swing
Or maybe a HIIT max snatch protocol or something exotic
Or maybe even some sort of top secret post-partum KB
fat loss protocol.
None of them.
Her workouts simply alternate between grinds – double
KB work (she’s partial to it like me) – and ballistics.
What kind of sets and reps?
Not as much as you think.
She’s not doing outrageous swing workouts – none of those
40-50 rep sets.
Sets of 5 to 10.
Yeah, I think most people are.
Why so little?
Because she’s typically swinging a 24kg and she’s focusing
on power output – making each rep as powerful and explosive
She’s not trying to turn it into some kind of endurance number-
Here’s what else –
Her grinds are kept between 3 and 5 reps per set.
“I thought you were supposed to do high reps for fat loss?”
So why do we keep her reps so low?
Because we’re focusing on getting her strength back at the
same time as her losing fat.
I’ll never sacrifice strength for fat loss.
That’s embracing weakness.
And I just won’t do that.
Plus, lower reps = increased force production.
Increased force production = more work performed.
More work = more calories burned.
How come my fat loss programming looks so different from
the rest of the fitness industry?
Because it’s based on physiology – how your body actually
works – instead of “hearsay” – you know –
“I heard that high reps works best for fat loss…”
Physiology and OBSERVATION.
I used to train athletes for a living.
The leanest athletes are usually track and field athletes,
wrestlers, gymnasts, and middleweight Olympic weightlifters.
The one thing they all have in common is high force outputs
and they manage fatigue well.
So all my fat loss programs are based on how I trained these
athletes, which was always based on exercise physiology –
specifically the body’s metabolic pathways.
And since my wife was an athlete – and a darn good one –
I still train her relatively the same way.
Here’s the thing that people are forgetting, don’t know, or
won’t acknowledge because it doesn’t fit with their current
(and almost always limited) experience –
Get as strong as you can and you’ll almost always, assuming
your nutrition is on point or close to it, and you’ll automatically
The problem is, most people are unwilling to get their nutritional
house in order.
This is a physically simple topic, yet psychologically complicated
one – so we’ll leave it alone for now.
So back to the the whole “best sets and reps for fat loss”
Here are the guidelines I use:
1. Reps: Keep them low.
1 to 5 on grinds.
5 to 20 on ballistics. (Depends on the exericse.)
Use enough weight that allows you to keep your speed of
movement high. When speed drops, the set is done.
More advanced trainees can use higher reps because they
know how to produce force and manage fatigue better than
2. Sets: More often than not, this is up to the individual.
I use a lot of density based work which provides valuable
feedback on things like work capacity / endurance and lets
the trainee start where they’re able.
For non-density-based training, I often use between 5 and
10 sets, both with grinds and ballistics.
And that’s pretty much it.
Oh yeah, one more thing I almost forgot – and a ton of people
make this mistake –
Oh wait – just caught the time – gotta bounce – late for an
We’ll discuss that next time – a lot of people are making it.
In the mean time – knock off the high rep fat loss nonsense
and focus on getting strong and automatically building your
work capacity for future “hardcore” fat loss.