Training for Fat Loss

Training for Fat Loss

“I want to lose weight and burn fat.”

My most requested workout programs by clients are geared toward fat loss goals. I am happy to oblige, but choosing fat loss as your fitness goal comes with the responsibility of tackling the nutrition aspect to elicit a change in body composition. Our societal expectations unfortunately rely too heavily on the workout for weight loss, so people often assume that moving their body is enough achieve the results they want. However if you consistently eat in a caloric surplus (more than what you need) and refuse to change your current dietary habits, the most common outcome is a body composition that stays the same or worse – experiences an increase in body fat.

I’m going to be blunt here… If you really want to change your body composition, hear this:


The workout should burn (this does not equal pain… that’s different – but you should feel that uncomfortable burn. And your diet needs to change along with your workouts, which means yes, you should cut out some of the foods you may love the most.

What makes a workout good for fat-loss?

A fat loss workout is a density workout that crams a lot of of exercises, sets, and reps together and produces lactic acid, or that burning sensation you feel. To do this, the work completed on each body part (i.e. quadriceps or chest) needs to be at least 60 seconds. Why? Making the muscles produce lactic acid as a by-product increases growth hormone which is a powerful fat burning hormone. The more growth hormone produced, the more fat burning potential your workout has. Natural growth hormone is not harmful, in fact, after the age of 31 growth hormone falls 14% per decade and by age 60 the 24-hour amount of growth hormone circulating in the body is reduced by half. Thus lifting weights is critical to maintaining body composition as well as a number of positive health implications not elaborated in this text. 

What are the best movements to do?

The German Body Composition (or GBC) method is a weight-based training system that’s great for the general population to improve body composition and overall conditioning. The GBC method uses big “bang for your buck” exercises, each executed for 60 seconds, while the rest periods in between are kept short. 

Staple exercises include the squat, pressing, and pulling exercises. These exercises are multi-joint and move through a large range of motion, meaning more muscle fibers are innervated, more metabolic damage, and more calories burned. Single joint or isolation exercises can be used as well, and are great for detrained individuals or placed at the end of the workout. Place squats, chin ups, chest press, romanian deadlifts, rows, etc towards the beginning of the workout and keep leg extension, bicep curls, lateral raises, and the like toward the end of the workout. 

So, how do I put it all together?

Each exercise needs to be executed for a minimum of 60 seconds. This is where tempo comes into play. Remember tempo is the speed at which you complete 1 repetition of an exercise and is written as a 4 digit code. Need a refresher on what tempo is? Read our post about it here. To calculate the time under tension (TUT) for one exercise multiply the number of reps by the tempo. NOTE! A tempo of 4010 is 5 seconds NOT 4,010. The code dictates 4 seconds to lower, 0 second pause at the bottom, 1 second to return to the top, 0 second pause = 5 seconds. Therefore, 12 repetitions x 5 seconds (for each repetition) = 60 seconds to complete all 12 repetitions. What is great about tempo is that it can be changed. Instead of 12 reps at 4010 tempo the program can call for 12 reps at 3110 tempo, however both protocols equal 60 seconds. 

Short rest breaks between each exercise consist of 30 – 60 seconds. 

The workout is set up that the trainee is alternating lower and upper body exercises in each superset. Why? The goal is to create total body lactic acid production and keep that circulating for the entire workout. 

Don’t worry, here are some example workouts geared specifically for fat-loss for you to follow:


Workout 1

A1. Heels elevated DB squat 3×12 4010 60s

A2. Machine supinated row 3×12 3011 60s

B1. Romanian deadlift 3×12 4010 60s

B2. Seated DB shoulder press, neutral grip 3×12 4010 60s

C1. Leg press 3×15 3010 60s

C2. 45* prone Y raises 3×15 3010 60s


Workout 2

A1. Lying hamstring curls* 3×8 5010 60s (this exercise is an exception to the 60s rule)

A2. DB chest press 3×12 4010 60s

B1. Alternating lunges 3×10 each 2010 60s

B2. Machine pulldown, neutral grip 3×12 4010 50s

C1. Lying tricep extension 3×12 4010 60s

C2. 45* Incline DB bicep curls 3×12 4010 60s

*The lying hamstring curl is the exception to the 60 second rule because hamstrings used as a knee flexor are a fast twitch muscle fiber, thus responding better to 40 seconds or less time under tension. 


For best results complete each workout 2x per week for 4 weeks. For example: 

Monday: Workout 1

Tuesday: Workout 2

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Workout 1

Friday: Workout 2

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

Rest days does not mean spending the day confined to bed or couch. You should still be active on these days, for example getting 10,000 steps in for the day or taking a recovery yoga class, however resting from completing another intense bout of exercise.

Give yourself 3 good weeks of this at least (along with diet change) and you’ll start to see some results!

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