This one is going to be mix of science and personal preference.
As a strength coach/personal trainer I hear “I want abs” and “What exercises can I do to get better abs?” As most of us who care to read know at this stage, that battle is won in the kitchen. No amount of abdominal work will get your abs to “pop” unless your nutrition is on point. So how can you help the cause and burn as much fat as possible when training or working out?
First off, to burn fat you have to release it from a fat cell. That is called lipolysis. For that fat to be burned it has to be brought to another cell. Finally, the fat has to get inside a cell and be burned. Blood flow plays a huge role in this process. This last step is called lipid oxidation.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
There are two different types of receptors in fat cells. Your major fat releasing hormones are the catecholamines (norepinephrine and epinephrine to Americans and noradrenaline and adrenaline to most of the world).
These hormones bind receptors in fat tissue that send the signal to speed fat release or slow fat release. These receptors are known as alpha and beta-receptors. The Betas speed fat release for fat Burning and the Alphas are Anti-burn or slow fat release.
These receptors have this effect largely because they turn on intracellular signaling that either speeds the activity of hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), the major fat releasing enzyme in the body, or decrease its activity. So, to get rid of that unwanted fat you’ll need to do things that increase the activity of beta-receptors and decrease the activity of alpha-receptors.
How do we do that?
In order to boost your beta receptors you need to do some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) like tabatas or any superset/triset etc. with short rest times, typically less than 45 seconds and as low as 10 seconds.
Eating quality foods low on the glycemic index, lean proteins and plenty of healthy fats will also help this process. By increasing your beta receptors you automatically decrease your alpha receptors.
Caffeine consumption before exercise also helps increase levels of Hormone Sensitive Lipase to aid the cause of lipolysis.
Get to the point. What are the best exercises for fat loss?
I will reveal the top three soon.
There are different types of exercises. We have compound exercises and we have isolation exercises.
Compound exercises are your big exercises that use multiple joints through a range of motion like your squats, deadlifts, dips, bench, lunges clean and press etc.
Isolation exercises use 1 joint at a time like the bicep curl, tricep extension and most abdominal exercises.
Obviously using more joints means using more muscles, so compound exercises will be the way to go.
When your goal is fat loss, you want to burn as much fuel as possible. To do this, you want your body to be as fuel inefficient as possible. One of the huge problems with cardio for fat loss is that the more you do, the better you get at it and therefore the more fuel efficient you become. With strength training the opposite is true. If you are programming properly you are progressing and overloading, so essentially your body will never become efficient as there is always room to grow stronger. So that takes long distance running out of the equation.
Seriously! What are the top three?
Work = Force x Distance (Lbs, Feet and Ft-Lbs will be used instead of Newtons, metres and joules)
To burn calories we must do work. In order to do work we must create force and that force must be moved a distance.
Let’s look at the people who do “ab” work to lose belly fat. Let’s say you do 1 sit up. When you do a sit up your upper body moves all of 1 foot. Let’s say you are moving 50lbs of weight. According to the formula, force= 50lbs and distance = 1 ft. We have done 50ft-lbs of work for 1 rep.
Now let’s look at some full body exercises
The most formidable strength exercise there is, in my opinion. This movement builds strength and muscle when done properly all over the body. Lots of weight can be moved in a short period of time.
Say you pull 225lbs one time and the distance you are pulling on average will be about 3 feet.
225 lbs is the force and the distance is 3 feet. That’s 675ft-lbs for every pull. Pull that for 10 and you getting big bang for your buck. A little more impressive than the sit up I would say.
(This lift can be a little technical so form is of upmost importance)
The Farmers Walk
Again a full body exercise where you begin with a deadlift and then walk with that weight. Say you pick up two 70lbs kettle bells and walk 120ft.
140lbs of force with 60ft of distance puts you at 8400ft-lbs.
The Squat Clean and Press
An Olympic lift that is amazing to watch when done properly. This is the most technical of the three and probably more fun when executed. The bar starts at the ground, pulled in a vertical fashion where it is received on the shoulders as you squat, come out of the squat and then press the weight overhead. This can be done with kettle bells, dumbbells or a barbell.
Say you use two 35lbs kettle bells to clean and press. The kettle bell moves about 7 to 9ft including the squat.
So, 70lbs moves 8ft is 560ft-lbs.
So with all this being said the farmers walk is scientifically the best exercise for fat loss according to the formula for work, however, as far using multiple joints at one time, the clean and press would be the best, but personally the deadlift is and always will be king.
Try them all and let me know what you think!
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Internal image by Cabreney Johnny.