I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the “fat loss” industry when it
comes to workouts.
Know what it is?
It’s probably not what you think.
I’ll tell you what it is in a minute.
First, one thing most, if not all, fat loss programs have in
common is they try to get you to do as much work as possible.
I agree, you’ve gotta do a lot of work to lose fat and get lean.
But it’s gotta be High Quality Work.
Most of these fat loss programs – even KB ones – rely on
higher reps to burn calories.
But there’s a problem with that:
Higher reps rapidly increase fatigue.
And when you’re fatigued, your ability to produce force
And unfortunately, because you’ve gotta complete the
workout and get those high reps in, your focus wanders
from what you supposed to accomplish to what you gotta
do to survive – to finish the set.
And more often than not your form breaks down. Then
you end up doing lots of Low Quality Work.
And Low Quality Work is low force / low power work.
(Not to mention that when your technique breaks you’re
setting yourself up for injuries down the road.)
And when force production drops, so does power output.
Remember, power = work.
And at the end of the day, work is what burns calories.
So how in the heck are you supposed to do the greatest
amount of high quality work, without your technique
breaking down so you can burn a ton of calories and
That brings us to the missing ingredient in 99% of all
fat loss programs –
3. Fatigue Management.
Most fat loss programs just flat out fail to manage fatigue.
They don’t even give it a passing thought let alone pay
it lip service.
And that’s a BIG Mistake – especially when we’re taking
the contrarian approach to fat loss – or rather, getting lean.
Remember, we’re looking to what power athletes do in
their training – training which keeps them lean pretty much
all year round.
Managing fatigue is common practice to all high-level athletes.
It’s the only way to acquire the necessary adaptation – faster,
stronger, and more powerful – that enables them to win.
And since we’ve seen that producing more power is a key
component to achieving the lean, hard, athletic (low fat) body
we want, this concept deserves careful examination and
Here’s a fact that you may suspect but not know for sure, so
let me clarify this for us –
Power athletes have low body fat as a by-product of high
levels of force production, training frequency, and fatigue
It’s not [necessarily] the end goal.
(Unless you are a combat athlete restricted by a weight class –
but even then, you main goal is to beat your opponent, and
that’s done through better technique, and more speed and
power and stamina.)
Herein lies the #1 problem with most fat loss programs, including
kettlebell programs -
They seek to create fatigue as the mechanism for adaptation when
instead they should be managing it.
(Hats off to Strength Coach Charles Staley who has written
extensively on this topic – so I won’t cover it in depth here.)
It’s not that we’re trying to avoid fatigue at all costs. Not at all –
we recognize it exists, and we understand that it’s a necessary
and useful part of the training process, but we’re not going out
of our way to find it or chase it down and call it some disturbingly
cute name like “Pukie.”
Our goal is to manage fatigue using everything at our disposal –
both within the workout and after it.
(As an aside – can we stop calling them “workouts”? Please?
We are chasing a particular goal or adaptation – in this case,
getting lean – therefore we are “training” to do that.)
And, just so we’re clear – we’re not interested in doing “work-
for-work’s-sake.” Not at all. We want to work at the highest
quality level, as frequently and as sanely as possible, so we can
burn as many calories as possible each and every day.
Makes sense so far, doesn’t it?
There are many different ways to manage fatigue. Here are some
ideas for you:
Sauna / Steam room
All of these can and should be used in some way shape or form
both inside and outside your workouts – ahem, training sessions.
Doing them does two things:
1. It increases the amount of work you can do in your training
2. It speeds up your recovery from your training and produces
faster adaptation – or in laymen’s terms – faster results.
And that means we get leaner faster.
And as you might have guessed by now, fatigue management goes
hand-in-glove with recovery.
That’s right – the “R” word – Recovery.
For most training programs, fat loss or not, recovery – a form
of fatigue management – is nowhere to be found.
Recovery is absolutely necessary to consistently manage fatigue
both during your training session and after it.
Recall that fatigue interferes with the ability to produce large
amounts of force. And producing large amounts of force is how
we burn calories.
And burning calories is a measure of work.
So, the more force we produce, the more work is done, and
the more calories are burned.
(I know, I know, I’m riding this horse into the ground but it’s
SO IMPORTANT – I feel like I can’t repeat it enough.)
Exactly what we want in our fat loss – I mean Getting Lean
One of the best and simplest and most frequently overlooked
ways to manage fatigue is to spread out your training frequency.
So instead of training three days a week for 60 minutes, you may
train six days per week for 30 minutes.
Same total training time, but much different training experiences.
(Of course I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you haven’t got
your recovery measures down. I’ll show you the best ones that
I use and recommend later.)
Take Home Point # 3
Managing your fatigue is key to fat loss.
Apart from active recovery measures, one of the best ways to
manage your fatigue is to spread out your training frequency.
This allows you to do more high quality work more often.
Therefore, you can burn more calories stored as body fat more
frequently, which means that you will lose fat and more importantly,
get leaner at a faster pace.
Next time we’ll look at the most overlooked method for fat loss –
the last “Forgotten F.”
In the meantime, take a look at your fat loss – is it moving along
as fast as you think it is or is it moving at a snail’s pace?
Or worse yet, has it stalled out completely?
Think about it. And think about how you’d apply what you’ve
learned over the last 3 days about getting lean and how you
would fix it.
Don’t worry if you don’t have an answer – I do.