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3 Secrets I Used To Go From Fat To Fit

Going from a 350-pound construction worker to a 215-pound athlete wasn’t particularly hard. I believe nearly anyone can do it. Realistically it’s more a matter of dedication, know-how, and time. If you’re overweight and have a dream to get fit, then you’re in luck!

I want to give you the basic framework you can adopt and emplacement to start transforming your body.

 

Fat To Fit Secret #1: Lifting Weights > Cardio

Yes, I went from fat to fit, losing 135 pounds, by avoiding traditional cardio. Steady-state cardio, or anything that is done continuously in order to elevate heart rate for 2 or more minutes, is the last thing you want to do for weight loss.

You will be losing a lot of lean muscle mass along with any fat you may burn. Subsequently, as you lose fat and muscle tissue, you will greatly reduce your total body volume which will lead to loose skin.

I found that focusing on weight training for fat loss is absolutely necessary. Skeletal muscle does the following for you:

  • Increases basal metabolic rate (burn more calories at rest)
  • tones / gives definition to your form and reduces likelihood of loose skin
  • handy to have around (functional strength for every-day tasks)

Even while still working construction, I was able to pop into the gym for an hour and do what was needed to be done. Weight training isnt’ near as energy demanding as cardio (a 6 on the METs scale, as apposed to 10-12 METs for running).

If you wish to transform your body into a fat-burning engine, you’ll need to abide by these rules in the gym:

  • Work primarily with core barbell lifts (deadlift, squat, bench press, etc.)
  • Lift heavy (=/>75% of your 1 rep max, so 1-12 rep range, with most done in the middle)
  • Keep sessions relatively short (less than 90 minutes, the goal is consistency over a long period so make it sustainable)
  • Always start with a large, heavy core lift and work down to smaller, lighter lifts (i.e. Squats 5 x 5 -> Good Mornings 5 x 5 -> Calf Raises 3 x 8, etc.)
  • Lift at least 4x per week and do a split (i.e. Upper body muscle groups on Days 1 and 3, lower body / back muscle groups on Days 2 and 4)

As you can see it’s pretty simple. The factor that will cause you to succeed or fail is consistency. As long as you lift the majority of weeks for at least 4x per week, give an honest effort, and keep at it for weeks on end, you will see awesome results.

Fat To Fit Secret #2: End Each Session With HIIT or Circuit Training

High Intensity Interval Training has been a favorite for many bodybuilders for a long time. Why? Because it actually does work very, very well for cutting fat and preserving muscle mass. Without going into too much detail, HIIT simply elevates your heart rate and keeps it elevated much higher than cardio can (90 – 100% of your heart rate reserve (HRR) as apposed to 75-85%) for a longer net total time.

Higher heart rate for more time = much more energy used. The real beauty is that you already used up your anaerobic fuel substrates during your lifting session (skeletal creatine phosphate and glycogen). But since HIIT mimics the first two, anaerobic metabolic pathways, it can’t rely on oxygen for synthesizing fuel. So HIIT forces your body to tap into body fat stores for immediate energy supply.

More energy burned and muscle preserved – HIIT is a powerful tool indeed. I used HIIT with jump rope after lifting sessions to burn through the first 100 pounds of fat. Here’s the principles of a HIIT session you can do after your workouts to go from fat to fit!:

  • Warm up for 2 minutes.
  • Active rest for 1 minute (slowly jog, pace about, slow jump roping, etc.)
  • Maximal work for 1 minute
  • Active rest for 1 minute
  • Maximal work for 1 minute
  • Repeat 1:1 work-to-rest ratio for as many cycles as you can (up to ~12)
  • Cool down for 2 minutes (same as the warm up in the beginning)
  • Try not to exceed 30 minutes

Any modality can be done with HIIT (cycling, sprinting, jump roping, swimming, tread mill running, ellipticysing, rowing machine, etc.)

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To be honest, I now use simple dumbbell circuit training over HIIT nowadays when I cut. It doesn’t burn through fat as quickly as HIIT does, but it does a better job preserving lean mass. This is the method most professional bodybuilders use to fine-tune themselves for competitions.

  • Select 2 dumbbells (one fairly heavy, one only moderately heavy, i.e. 50 lbs and 25 lbs.)
  • Perform a 40 yard farmer’s walk (20 yards to and 20 yards back to start) w/ the 50 pound dumbbell in the right hand
  • Immediately put down the 50 pound dumbbell and pick up the 25 pound dumbbell in the left hand, do 10 right-legged lunges in place
  • Perform the 40 yard farmer’s walk again (right hand)
  • Perform 10 squats in place (25 lbs in left hand)
  • Perform the 40 yard farmer’s walk again (50 lbs in right hand)
  • Perform 10 upper cuts (25 lbs in left hand)
  • Perform the 40 yard farmer’s walk again (50 lbs in right hand)
  • Perform 10 deadlifts (25 lbs in left hand)
  • Perform the 40 yard farmer’s walk again (50 lbs in right hand)

At this point you’ll repeat everything exactly the same with the exception of switching hands (i.e. farmer’s walk done in the left hand and other lifts done in the right hand). Once you have done everything on both side you have completed one circuit. If doing more circuits, be sure to have active rest between circuits for about 2 minutes.

The reason why this is so effective is because it is working all the major muscle groups in your body (upper and lower body, right and left, plus core activation with unilateral work (one side loaded at a time, causing your core to compensate and stabilize).

It elevates your heart rate, taps into body fat for fuel, and preserves muscle mass because it loads all the active, working muscles with resistance. This will signal to your body not to catabolize (break down) lean mass for energy since it will think it’s necessary for homeostasis.

If you have a lot of body fat you need to get rid of, I’d suggest doing HIIT for burning a majority of what you need to lose. Once you’ve lost a bit of weight, you can take advantage of your joints’ improved range of motion with the circuit training.

Fat To Fit Secret #3: You Need This Specific Diet

Diet is the crucial element for going from fat to fit. With a little bit of knowledge, you can manipulate and manage your diet and make your body go in the direction you want.

If you eat more calories than your body uses in a day, the excess will be stored as adipose (fat) on your body. Eat fewer calories than your body uses in a day and your body will tap your body’s fat stores for energy. That’s all any diet boils down to, no matter what it is, so I’ve learned not to fret too much over all the fad diets out there.

So why did I say specific diet? I said it because in order to go from fat to fit you need to know how many calories you need to eat in order to lose fat. I’ll share a simple equation I’ve learned from the NSCA and have successfully used for years (and many others!):

  • BWT x 17 = Total Daily Calories to maintain weight (350 x 17 = 5,950 calories per day)
  • BWT x 9 = Total Daily Calories for weight loss (i.e I was 350 pounds, so 3,150 calories per day would cause me to lose weight)

Each pound of fat on your body represents ~3,500 K/calories of stored energy. So when I was 350 pounds I needed ~5,950 K/calories to maintain my weight. When I started dieting, I only ate 3,150 K/calories per day, meaning I had a daily deficit of 2,800 calories. Add in the exercise and physical activity I was doing for work, I was actually losing a pound a day.

Of course as you become lighter you will have to adjust your calorie calculations and the rate of fat loss will slow down, but nonetheless you will continue to lose fat.

Make sure to take in adequate protein. Since you will be in a calorie deficit, your lean muscle mass will be mighty tempting for your body to start breaking down for energy (if done wrong, your body will actually prefer muscle mass over fat stores!). An increased consumption of protein will help stimulate protein synthesis and inhibit further breakdown of lean muscle mass.

As I’ve found, you have to make every calorie count! You don’t have room to spare for ’empty calories’. That includes desserts, candy, soft drinks, snack foods, etc. To keep things simple, you can easily accomplish a daily calorie deficit by only eating your usual square meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and reducing the portions by more than a third.

 

Conclusion

These are the 3 secrets I used to shed 135 pounds and go from fat to fit in about a year’s time. If you have less to lose then obviously you can achieve your fintess goal a lot faster than that. No matter where you’re at right now, you’ll never reach your goal if you never start! Design and implement your own fitness plan using these 3 principles and enjoy your own ‘fat to fit’ journey. You can do it, it’s just a matter of starting and sticking with it.

Do you have a fitness question you’d like to ask me? Send me a message blow and I will answer it!

 

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