Higher weight or lighter weight…which is best?

Posted: January 26, 2011 in Exercise Programming, Uncategorized

Intensity is the name of the game in fat loss.

This is a great question asked by just about everyone trying to lose body fat. The answer is pretty straightforward and in a few minutes I’ll give that to you. I just returned from speaking at the U.S. Lacrosse Convention in Baltimore for my fifth presentation in seven years. My topic this year was on safety and fitness in the game of women’s lacrosse and do they go hand in hand.

I began by telling my audience that there are certain truths that you must acknowledge regarding the way the body moves in function and that no matter what you read by “Internet gurus” you cannot deviate from the undeniable truth that the body knows best, and if you feed it right and move it the way it wants to be moved, you’ll be healthy.

Simple. Done!

So much of the stuff out there comes from marketers with no practical or academic knowledge anyway so whom can you trust?


Ok, so what does this have to do with fat loss and reps you might ask?

How many books are written on this topic?

I don’t know nor care how many there are, but I do know there are more than I will ever get around to reading and this is my career.

How are YOU supposed to get around to it then?  You’re busy raising families, working hard and trying to make a life so what’s a person to do?

International fat loss expert Alwyn Cosgrove had taught me a pretty simple 5-step format to follow when going after your quest to get leaner. He bases it on a hierarchy that is goal oriented. Hierarchy means order of importance and relevance, and this was his order to truly burn fat and stop messing around:

1. Nutrition

2. See #1 (yeah it’s pretty important)

3. Activities that burn calories, maintain muscle mass and elevate metabolism.

4. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism.

5. Activities that burn calories, but don’t necessary maintain muscle mass or elevate metabolism.

How will this look in your training program?

1. Do metabolic resistance training. (Training with 8-12 reps with an intensity that produces the burn in your muscles and doesn’t allow you to lift another rep) – Higher reps can work just as well with an untrained population.

2. Do high intensity anaerobic intervals. This routine is challenging, but you wanted to lose fat (sprints, high intensity cycling intervals etc.).

3. Do high intensity aerobic intervals (lower level intensity of the above mentioned).

4. Do steady state aerobic high intensity aerobic training. Just plain old hard cardio where you won’t have much of an after burn, but you work hard.

5. Do steady state low intensity aerobic training. This is where you go for walks or gardening or that other stuff that will do nothing to make you leaner.

Why is it better to work harder than easier?

Training with higher intensities will build more muscle density (not bigger just denser muscles) and create a longer caloric burn even after you stop training. It’s kind of like continually being paid for your job even after you’re done working because you worked so hard. One study demonstrated that a high intensity interval training group had a 9 times greater loss of subcutaneous fat than an endurance group. (“Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism”. Metabolism. 1994 Jul; 43(7): 814-8-Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C.)

9 times! Imagine what you could do with that extra time on your hands.

Let’s wrap this up by looking at your week and making a plan.

If you have 3 hours per week, use only #1 above: metabolic resistance training.

If you have 3-5 hours, use #1 and # 2: weight training plus high intensity interval work.

If you have 5-6 hours available, add #3: aerobic interval training.

If you have 6-8 hours available, add #4.

Now back to the original question on heavier vs. lighter weight. While it’s relative to your fitness level, keep in mind training with 8 lb dumbbells for extended periods of time (a week) probably won’t take you to the next level and when looking to lose body fat you probably won’t see yoga, pilates or gardening too high on our list.

If you want to put this into practice and make some real changes then give us a call at RetroFIT Training Center 303 758 3138 or go to www.billycorbettsretrofit.com and join a boot camp or personal training group.

Also leave a message here and let’s discuss this further.

Intensity is the name of the game in fat loss.


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