WORKOUT DESIGN – Why Can’t I Lose This Fat – Part 3

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced you to Angela, a new client of mine.

Angela is beyond frustrated by her failed attempts to burn off her post-baby body-fat.


In Part 2 of this series, I described the 3 paths that Angela needs to walk down if she wants to achieve successful and permanent weight loss.


Path # 1 Nutrition


Path # 2 Exercise


Path # 3 Mental / Emotional / Spiritual Strategies


In today’s post, we will be looking at Path # 2: Exercise.


In particular, we will be looking at:


The Most Effective Training Methods for Fat Loss


Some methods of training are more effective than others.

1.  The Best Methods:

  • Elevate your Metabolism – Long Term
  • Elevate your Metabolism – Short Term
  • Burn Calories

2.  Secondary Methods:

  • Elevate your Metabolism – Short Term
  • Burn Calories

3.  The Least Effective Methods:

  • Burn Calories

So, what does all of that mean?

The following section gets pretty detailed. If that doesn’t interest you, skip ahead to the section labeled Let’s Put This Plan Together



How To Elevate Metabolism – Long Term


Your Resting or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of energy (measured in calories) that you burn simply by living…i.e keeping your heart beating, brain thinking, kidneys filtering, etc…

The amount of calories that you burn outside of your BMR (i.e exercise or the Thermic Effect of Food) is insignificant when compared to your BMR.

So, how do we increase BMR?

  • Increase muscle mass
  • Move to the Arctic…BMR increases to “warm them bones”
  • Get sick…a fever will increase your BMR
  • Stress…stress hormones can increase BMR

And the winner is:

Increase Muscle Mass


And before any of the women reading this article say “I don’t want to get big muscles”, look at these ladies:

Gabrielle Reece - Volleyball
Gabrielle Reece - Volleyball
Amanda Beard - Olympic Swimmer
Amanda Beard - Olympic Swimmer
Iris Kyle - Ms. Olympia
Iris Kyle - Ms. Olympia
Maria Sharapova - Tennis Champ
Maria Sharapova - Tennis Champ

All of these women lift weights.

And all of them have built very different bodies.


You WILL NOT turn into Ms. Olympia if you lift weights.


“I will not turn into Ms. Olympia if I lift weights”.


There are a lot of teenage boys that wish they had as much muscle as Ms. Olympia


How To Elevate Metabolism – Short Term


When it comes to increasing your metabolism in the short term, we are looking at EPOC.

EPOC or Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption  is essentially a measurement of how quickly or slowly your metabolism (BMR) returns back to normal after exercising.

When it comes to fat loss, we want to focus on exercises and workouts that give us a very high EPOC.


Burn Calories

This is where most people make their mistake. They hop onto the treadmill, enter their weight into the computer and start running, keeping one eye on the amount of calories burned.


Activities that burn calories, but do nothing to increase your metabolism are next to useless in your fat burning battle.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a huge health benefit to putting in the miles on a cardio machine, but when it comes to fat loss, you don’t get much bang for your buck.




1.   High Intensity Resistance Training

High intensity resistance workouts are the superstars of this entire program. When performed properly, they elevate your BMR, drastically increase your EPOC and burn a fair amount of calories per workout.

Various studies have shown these types of workouts to:

  • Increase metabolism for up to 36 hours post-workout…36 hours
  • Drastically outperform diet and aerobic exercise in fat loss studies
  • Maintain muscle mass in subjects on a Very Low Calorie Diet

The Details

High Intensity Resistance Training works best when you focus on:

  • Total Body workouts
  • Pushing yourself until your muscles burn with lactic acid
  • Perform supersets, tri-sets, giant sets, etc…
  • Compound exercises – squats instead of leg extensions
  • Big muscle groups – legs, back and chest instead of arms and shoulders
  • Performing sets of 5 to 15 repetitions


2.   High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training (HIIT)

High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training will increase your EPOC drastically and burn a whole bunch of calories. It is not as effective as High Intensity Resistance Training at increasing muscle mass and BMR.

The main technical differences between High Intensity Resistance Training and High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training are:

  • Lighter weights are used with HIIT training
  • Rest intervals are minimized (30 sec. MAX) with HIIT
  • EDTs and Circuit training are used instead of supersets
  • Reps can be higher – larger range – 8-30 reps

Basically, you will be substituting speed for strength.

And how effective is HIIT (anaerobic) training?

9x more effective at burning body-fat than aerobic endurance training.


3.   High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training

High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training replaces resistance exercises with traditional cardio activities like:

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Stair Master
  • Rowing

High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training will also increase your EPOC and burn a whole bunch of calories. It is even less effective than High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training at increasing muscle mass and BMR.

Think of sprinting hills.

More info on HIIT can be found here.


4.   High Intensity Aerobic Training

High Intensity Aerobic Training is simply hard, sweaty, painful cardio.

Think about rowing for 60 minutes without a break. Your lungs burning and your muscles aching.

High Intensity Aerobic Training burns a ton of calories, but doesn’t increase EPOC significantly and hardly does anything to increase your BMR.


5.   Low Intensity Aerobic Training

Low Intensity Aerobic Training is going for a walk.

It doesn’t do much of anything for fat loss, but it is good for your heart and every calorie counts in this battle of the bulge.


OK, Let’s Put This Plan Together

First off, I realize that in today’s society, time is precious. There are only so many hours in the day.

Angela has set aside 6 hours a week for her Fat Loss training Program.

  • 2 1/4 of those hours will be spent on High Intensity Resistance Training – 3 x 45 min.
  • 3/4 of an hour will be spent on High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training – 3 x 15 min.
  • 1 of those hours will be spent on High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training – 3 x 20 min.
  • 2 of those hours will be spent on High Intensity Aerobic Training – 2 x 60 min.


What About You?

Take a look at your schedule. Really look.

If you have less than 3 hours of available time to exercise:

  • Focus on High Intensity Resistance Training

If you have between 3 and 5 hours, divide your time between:

  • High Intensity Resistance Training, and
  • High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training

If you have between 5 and 6 hours, work on:

  • High Intensity Resistance Training,
  • High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training, and
  • High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training

If you have between 6 and 8 hours, work on:

  • High Intensity Resistance Training,
  • High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training,
  • High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training, and
  • High Intensity Aerobic Training

If you have more than 8 hours, add in some Low Intensity Aerobic Training.



Before you start any training program, please make sure that you can handle the punishment that you are going to put your body through. Seeing you doctor is always a good idea.

I shipped Angela off to her MD with a request for a bunch of blood tests. (Thyroid problems run in her family and her basal temperature is a little low)

Also, keep in mind that she has me hovering over her making sure that are running smoothly.

Better safe than sorry.


In my next post, I will break all of this theory down into actual workouts.


So get ready people. It’s time to melt some blubber.

Stay tuned.



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19 thoughts on “WORKOUT DESIGN – Why Can’t I Lose This Fat – Part 3

  1. Looking forward to it — I like reading this series of posts! I’m trying to be better about switching up my routine — I got into a bad treadmill rut, now I’m trying to mix it up with different classes (boot camp, step class) and swimming. I can’t wait for the emotional part — I love healthy eating and love exercising, but a long time ago I established a habit of overeating that keeps my weight fluctuating… I know it’s just a habit wired into my brain that I need to stop reinforcing… anyway, just wanted to say I’m enjoying your blog!

    *Also — I’d be interested in hearing about the best way to do resistance training — should we use weight machines, use our own body weight, do whatever Dara Torres does… ?

  2. I’m also looking forward to the next post, because while it’s good to know that “High Intensity Resistance Training” is the best way to burn fat, I have absolutely no idea what exercises I should be doing to achieve it.

  3. I’ve been quietly reading your posts for some time and I have to admit this particular series of posts has gotten me pumped! I recognize some of these terms as my coach has mentioned them during some of my practices. Since my season has ended, I’ve seemed to have hit a plateau. While I have made good progress on my strength training (love strength training! Although, not a huge fan of anything that has the word “aerobic” in it. BLAH!), my weight has started to creep up and I’m not sure why. I’m HOPING it’s just muscle that I am gaining and not fat. I know my clothes fit better and I am definitely stronger (nothing to brag about but I am proud I can almost do pull ups! I’ve been training with the lat pull down machine and set it at 90 lbs and use the Gravitron to gauge how much assistance I still need to do pull ups ~ only 15 lbs!). But, like many people I find it hard to not focus on the actual number of pounds I weigh. Also, I’m not sure if I am doing enough cardio. I do about half hour of interval training on the treadmill (#3 on your list I think) before I hit the weights (this is usually an hour and a half. I also make sure I stretch after I do my workouts too). I do this about 2 to 3 times a week but I wonder if I should be doing more? I’m really curious as to what the next posting will be as I am wondering if it’s something that I am doing already. Looking forward to the next post!

  4. GREAT site! Congratulations!

    Just got alerted to it when it was featured at the front page of, in the News section. I’ll now be a regular visitor :) .

  5. Amazing post, you are wright the HIIT is one of the best ways to burn fat, it burns more then the traditional cardio workouts.

  6. Great post. People get into routines, and so does your body. Once it recognizes the exercise, it becomes more and more efficient, and burns far fewer calories than the machine tells you. Mixing it up almost monthly is very important to training.

    I also work with clients to recommend lifestyle changes that induce habit breaking behaviors… And I have found that tailoring exercise around the client’s interest is key to long-term exercise habits.

    Asking questions about what they LIKE to do, and DO NOT like to do…and finding a selection of routines that are conducive to long-term adaption, and do not allow for the body to become too efficient.

    I do agree also that too many people omit weight training from their program, and underestimate its value. I almost always steer them towards low resistance high endurance training….like bodypump or the like…

    Nice clear post…succinct and too the point!

    Well done!

  7. Thanks for all the great information! We do a lot of both High Intensity Resistance Training and HIIT in the Boot Camp class I’ve been taking. I wear a heart rate monitor and we definitely burn a lot of calories!

  8. DR, what a great post, loaded with fantastic info.

    I think I’ll use some of this to help design a training program for myself. I’m getting ready for my first marathon………………….:)

  9. I have nothing against HIIT. I just find in the real world with most people not physically able to hit the high intensity levels needed, that moderate intensity cardio with smart eating works best as a practical method of getting it done.

  10. Dr.J,

    High Intensity is a relative term.

    Your level of high intensity is going to be different from mine and is definitely going to be different from my 64 year old mother’s level of intensity.

    Most people (maybe we should leave cardiac patients out of this equation) can and should perform high intensity training.

    Moderate intensity cardio is a valuable tool for increasing the efficiency of the C-V system and for extending life, but when it comes to burning fat, it is a poor method.

  11. Im using protein suppliments for my weight lifting but i have also been wanting to burn off some fat i have tried running and a fair few things. I definetly have gotten alot stronger but i want to burn off some more fat and get a 6 pack, will using these protein suppliments slow down the rate that i burn off fat ?

  12. I have printed out everything but still a little confused when you say 24 hours between workouts does that mean between the same workout I am trying to get it all in the high intensity resistance training, the high intensity anaerobic interval training the high intensity aerobicv interval training, the high intensity aerobic training and the low intensity aerobic training and that would mean being at the gym everyday which is fine for a total of 8 hrs a week.
    Although I’m not exactly sure what each training entails. I have tried everything and still can’t lose any weight. I am a post menapausal woman with hypothryoidism. Your program showed me that what i have been doing doesn’t work and why and why all of this could work. I just want to do it correctly. Thanks for putting all of this out there.

  13. Hi Debbie,

    You are a perfect example of why guys have it much easier when it comes to losing weight – hormones, hormones, hormones

    The hormonal effects of menopause and hypothyroidism certainly make it harder to burn off body-fat – but not impossible

    I also realize that some of the stuff I post on Health Habits can be a little complex. I am a real fitness training geek and sometimes I forget that other people don’t really need to know all the science. They just want a good program that will help them drop a few extra pounds.

    Let’s see if we can simplify things a bit.

    If you are interested, shoot me an email with a brief description of where you are and where you want to be – age, weight, body-fat percentage, experience with fitness training, do you enjoy fitness training?, facilities available for training, medical issues (your discretion, but I need to know about stuff that I could make worse with my program – heart, joint issues, kidneys, etc…), fitness goals, and anything else that you think I might need to know.

    Email me @:

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