Which is better to train for –
Fat loss or strength?
Most people – most professionals will tell you it depends on your goal(s), right?
Want to lose fat?
Train for fat loss.
Want to get strong?
Train to get stronger.
Makes sense to some degree, right?
My friend Piers and I were talking this past weekend about the idea of false dichotomies –
You know – a “this or that” – when it doesn’t need to be or when the answer is actually “both.”
What if you don’t have to choose?
What if you SHOULDN’T choose?
Last week I told you I’d show you how to use the “STRONG!” program with something other than kettlebells.
I want to postpone that subject because it fits with this one so well. In fact, today’s email does a much better job in seguaying into that one because we really need to explore this whole false dichotomy thing.
As I write this, I’m flying home from a 4-day trip to Singapore where I had the honor to teach 2 workshops – An Original Strength Level 1 course and a “Kettlebell STRONG!” course.
I want to talk about one of the major things that the “Kettlebell STRONG!” attendees learned.
We started out by working on the Rack position.
One of the things they noticed immediately was how high their heart rate got and how hard they were breathing –
From a strength exercise.
And a typically non-traditional strength exercise at that.
Essentially, they were just standing still tightening certain muscle groups.
This is important because we were focusing on strength but the immediate results were ones that are traditionally associated with fat loss programs –
Elevated heart rates and breathlessness.
Again – in case you’re not tracking with me –
The attendees came to learn how to get stronger and they received the side benefits found in traditional fat loss workouts.
What’s my point here?
Don’t fall for the trap that you need to train for fat loss if your goal is fat loss.
At the end of the day fat loss programs are based on the amount of work you can do.
And the fastest way to be able to do more work is to get stronger.
End of story.
So how then do you structure a strength program
for fat loss?
1. Focus on and refine your technique.
That was really the whole point of the “Kettlebell STRONG!” workshop – to learn and refine double kettlebell technique.
As a result, A LOT of high quality work was done. And honestly, most of our sets were only 1 or 2 reps.
But every single attendee felt their body work in ways they hadn’t before.
Again, I don’t share this with you to brag about or promote the workshop, but to merely give you some feedback or a roadmap for your own training.
They felt their muscles work.
That’s one of the keys to getting stronger.
And it’s definitely one of the keys for losing fat.
2. Focus on building your strength.
Again, the stronger you are, the more work you can do.
The more work you can do, the more calories you will burn.
The more calories you burn, the more fat you’ll lose.
(Assuming of course you’re eating sensibly and being a chowhound.)
Strength training – the idea of moving heavy-for-you weights burns a ton of calories in and of itself.
The STRONG! workshop attendees were burning a ton of calories lifting heavy-ish for them weight all day yesterday.
How do I know?
All the huffing and puffing and sweating that was going on.
The same will happen to you when you train for strength.
3. Once you have your technique down and your strength is up to par – then engage in MetCon or other “traditional” forms of fat loss training.
Metabolic Conditioning or MetCon as it’s come to be known – is pretty good stuff for burning off unwanted body fat.
Problem is, most people don’t have their technique down or the necessary strength required to use MetCon wisely.
An example is one of my favorites – kettlebell complexes.
Complexes, if you don’t know, are made up of multiple exercises and are performed under fatigue.
Fatigue reduces force output and degrades technique.
But if you have sucky technique to begin with and are weak, you’re just wasting your time and setting yourself up for an injury.
You can get better results from just focusing on 1 and 2 above.
So the question then becomes –
How can you focus on your kettlebell technique and overall total-body strength?
Well I’m done for the year with the “Kettlebell STRONG!” workshops so that option is out.
So the next best thing is to get the “Kettlebell STRONG!” book and 3.5+ hour 2-DVD set.
The DVDs will show you the technique, and the book will not only show you common mistakes, but fixes for those mistakes as well as the STRONG! program.
Remember, you don’t have to choose between a fat loss program and a strength program.
It’s a false dichotomy.
You can have both – at the same time, if you follow the steps I outlined for you above.
Talk soon my friend.
P.S. For many people, there’s a time and a place to focus solely on fat loss training. But that’s only for a short window of time during the year.
More on that in future emails.