Contrast #1: The Loading Contrasts
We’ve already seen that the body yields you faster results when you contrast your loads.
But I’ve also noticed that your body yields you much faster results when you contrast not only the loads, but the types of loading.
Training is really just “work.” (I guess that’s why we call it “working out” – duh…)
And when we’re trying to lose fat, the more work you can do, and recover from, the better.
And in order to understand the types of loading, we must first look at the nature of “work.”
There are 3 “work (based)” formulas we need to address:
1. Force = Mass * acceleration (F=Ma)
We’re all pretty familiar with this formula. It’s pretty simple. Maximum force is produced two ways:
- Lift heavy weights slowly (because you cannot technically move heavy weights quickly) and
- Move lighter weights as quickly as possible
2. Work = Force * distance (W=Fd)
Work is simply defined as the greatest amount of force over the greatest distance.
Again, just like the Force formula, it’s an inverse relationship.
You cannot lift the heaviest of weights over large distances.
You may be able to deadlift 700lbs from mid-thigh to lockout, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to lift that same 700lbs from the floor.
In fact, I will almost guarantee you can’t.
In the same way, it’s easier to throw a lighter weight, like a shot, over a greater distance than a heavier one, like a 45lbs plate.
So you have to maximize the combination of the two – force and distance.
3. Power = Work/Time (P=W/t)
The key then to maximum power output is to do as much work as possible in whatever time period you have available to you.
The more work you do in the same amount of time, the greater your power output.
And the greater your power output the greater your energy expenditure.
And the greater your energy expenditure, the more calories you’ll burn.
Therefore, the optimal rapid fat loss formula focuses on producing as much force as possible, as much work as possible, and as much power as possible AND it contrasts these needs in order to maximize recovery from work.
So far, so good.
However, there’s another loading contrast we must also consider…
Overload is the mechanism that creates change.
You push your body into new ranges of motion or lift a heavier weight or lift the same weight more reps – that’s overload.
These are called volume, intensity, and density.
Volume: The total tonnage lifted – weight x reps x sets
Intensity: Percentage of a Rep Max
Density: Total work done in a specified period of time
The best and fastest way for rapid fat loss to occur is by constantly contrasting these three overload variables within your training program –
So that we can indeed train as heavy as possible, as often as possible, as fresh as possible.
All this loading is going to require some nutritional support so let’s look at…
Contrast #2: Nutrient Contrasts
Nutrients, the food you eat, like loads, can and should also be contrasted.
Eating the same foods every day in the same quantities is a surefire way to psychologically and physically stagnate. So for fastest fat loss, we need to do the opposite.
One such example is contrasting the eating carbohydrates with not eating carbohydrates.
Contrary to popular belief, your body can actually use carbohydrates to burn fat.
Our bodies use it as a sort of “primer” – like kindling – for fat burning.
By eating carbohydrates strategically in a weekly workout plan, we can speed up the fat loss for the simple reason that your body’s most powerful muscles (the ones that do the most work) are designed to run on sugar (carbohydrate).
Teaching them to do otherwise reduces work output, and therefore decreases the number of calories you can and will burn.
(Remember, calories = energy = stored body fat.) We’ll discuss more about this in a minute.
Another important contrast to take into consideration is contrasting calories – mixing high calorie days with low calorie days.
Taking it a step further, larger contrasts like “supra-calorie” days contrasted with zero calorie days work exceptionally well for rapid fat loss.
This strategy is quite contrary to conventional wisdom (again, here’s where that contrarian thinking occurs).
Most people think you need to be in a daily caloric deficit to burn fat.
And while this is true to a degree, what you really need to do is be in a caloric deficit over a defined period of time – like a week.
This strategy also allows for recovery between and from your demanding workouts designed to burn calories.
(This strategy actually affects your hormonal balance and will kick your body’s fat burning hormones into overdrive.)
In a society of excess, we, unlike our ancestors, are never lacking quick, readily available food. And that’s why we’re fat.
Our bodies are designed to be able to operate with no or very little food.
That’s actually what fat is – food storage (future energy storage).
By contrasting the amounts and types of foods we eat on a daily basis, we enable our bodies to tap into those future energy stores.
And only by doing that will we see rapid changes in body composition.
Just in case I haven’t made myself clear to this point:
What this means is that you can and should include both carbohydrates and fats in your diet for maximum fat loss.
Let’s look more closely at the reasons why:
First, and we briefly touched on this earlier, your body’s most powerful muscle fibers – the Type 2Bs – the ones that produce the most force, are essentially “sugar-driven.”
So depriving them of carbohydrates in the long term can lead to muscle wasting and the inability to get as strong as possible.
Second, exercise physiologists have discovered that fat “burns in a carbohydrate flame” – meaning that you actually have the potential to burn more fat by using carbs as a “starter” fuel source, if you will.
(We touched on this earlier if you remember.)
Just like a large fire starts not with a giant log, but with kindling, so it is with your body.
Carbs are used for “quick energy” and fats for “long term energy.”
Third, in the absence of carbohydrate your body will (should) burn stored body fat for fuel.
So strategically removing carbohydrates from your diet will speed up your fat loss, especially when combined with the right forms of exercise – which in our case, is specific kettlebell exercises.
Furthermore, there is no need to be on a chronic long-term low carb diet.
Your body actually needs some carbohydrates to keep your thyroid functioning properly.
Long term low carb dieting can lead to downregulation of your thyroid function, slowing your metabolic rate – which is the rate at which your body burns calories.
This is bad news for rapid fat loss because your body no longer burns calories at the rate it once did, let alone a faster-than-normal rate.
So, the take home point here is this:
Strategic contrasts in both the fuel sources and caloric intake can radically speed up the fat loss process.
Contrast #3: The Hormonal Contrast
By now, many of us are familiar with the concept that hormones control our bodies and therefore are ultimately a good indicator of how we look and function.
Hormones, incidentally, often times work in natural work in contrasts, or in antagonistic pairings, meaning one “counters” the effects of others.
For example, insulin, a powerful storage hormone, responsible for storing blood sugar in your body’s muscle cells as glycogen, is contrasted by glucagon.
Glucagon is a powerful mobilization hormone, that signals the release of that stored blood sugar from those cells to be used as energy when blood sugar levels drop too low.
Other hormones we want to manipulate through contrasts are:
Testosterone – Growth Hormone
This isn’t necessarily a true contrast, meaning we are pitting one hormone against the other or that one hormone works in an opposite contrast to the other.
The contrast comes in the application of the training program.
Research has actually shown that a decrease in testosterone due to higher levels of bodyfat is linked to a decrease in the body’s secretion of growth hormone.
So by improving the body’s ability to release or stimulate the release of testosterone through the appropriate training, we can also increase its ability to release more growth hormone.
Speaking of training, we will actually use distinctly different training variables to stimulate both testosterone and growth hormone production in a very strategic fashion.
Research by Kramer, et.al., has shown that testosterone is released as a result of very heavy loading, upwards of 85% of a 1-rep max, using compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and Olympic lift variations.
(Incidentally, it is also released under lighter loads with higher reps of compound movements. But these workouts produce incredible amounts of tissue breakdown and muscle soreness, inhibiting recovery on the musculoskeletal level.)
But remember, one of our strategies for losing large amounts of body fat is to lift heavy to not only access our energy-squandering Type 2B fibers, but as you now see, testosterone release.
Unfortunately, we can’t lift heavy every day because we’ll end up with Central Nervous System (CNS) fatigue or burnout.
SIDE NOTE: CNS burnout is bad because it increases stress levels in your body. As a result, your body increases its cortisol levels.
Cortisol, although very necessary to reduce inflammation, actually increases insulin levels when too high. And that’s a great way to store fat.
So how then do we train to avoid CNS burnout and still burn massive amounts of calories?
By biasing training protocols that stimulate the production of growth hormone.
Growth hormone has been shown to increase both in the presence of lactic acid and from explosive training.
Imagine what happens to GH levels when you combine the two…
Mmm-hmm, you’re right – rapid fat loss.
Therefore a rapid fat loss program will contrast very specific training protocols that either bias the release of testosterone or growth hormone.
Leptin – Ghrelin
Leptin is a hormone responsible for appetite control. When your leptin levels are high, your body doesn’t receive a “hungry” signal.
When leptin levels are low, say, through typical low calorie dieting, or being in a chronic or an excessive caloric deficit, your appetite is stimulated and it receives the hungry signal through the release of ghrelin (More on that in a second).
The problem is that when that happens, your thyroid hormone levels drop and your metabolic rate – the rate at which you use energy (burn calories) slows.
Not good when you’re trying to lose fat. (This incidentally is I believe what most people refer to when they talk about “starvation mode.”)
Ghrelin on the other hand is the appetite-stimulating hormone.
Every go on a diet and after a week to ten days you get really hungry?
Like starving – going to eat anything that moves – hungry?
Yeah, that’s ghrelin.
And it’s released when leptin levels drop in order to refuel your depleted (of fat) body.
And it’s also why so many people go on calorically restrictive diets and fail.
They end up binging because they think they’re starving.
Or at least their bodies are sending their brains those signals.
So they binge, feel guilty, and quit dieting altogether. (Sound vaguely familiar?)
So how do you overcome this?
You simply create an environment where we are using the release of these hormones in strategic manner to burn off fat at the fastest rate possible.
And the best way to do that is through contrasting the foods we eat, including the types and the amounts.
We use tactically timed high calorie days contrasted with low calorie days along with varying the types of foods we eat when. (Refer back to our discussion on carbohydrates.)
As you can see, manipulating hormones can have a very powerful effect on your body composition.
Get it right, and you’re burning off lots of fat. Get it wrong, and you’re stuck in an endless cycle of frustration.
That brings us to our next contrast…
Contrast #4: The Exercise Contrast
We learned earlier that in order to boost testosterone levels, we need to lift heavy. Really heavy.
But we also learned that doing so too frequently becomes too stressful to the body and is actually a great way to put on fat. (Not exactly what we’re looking to do here…)
So, we have a bit of a dilemma here don’t we?
If the one of the pathways to rapid fat loss is through exercise…
How then do we burn as many calories as possible if we can’t lift as heavy as often as we think we should?
Well the great news is that there’s another type of lifting that burns a ton of calories –
That’s right, like Swings and stuff.
The really cool part about explosive lifting is that not only does it burn a ton of calories (i.e. stored body fat), but it also does something else almost miraculous –
It increases insulin sensitivity.
And yes, we’re back to talking hormones here for a minute, so keep your shorts on – ALL of it is important (and inseparable).
One of the contributing factors to weight gain is not only excess calories, but excess sugar (carbohydrates).
Remember the role of insulin – to shuttle blood sugar into your body’s cells – preferably muscle and not fat cells?
Well when you eat too many carbs without burning them off, you eventually end up with elevated blood sugar and excess body fat.
This means that your poor pancreas has to work overtime and pumps out extra insulin to deal with that extra blood sugar.
Over time your body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, so your body’s response is to produce more insulin because the insulin it is producing isn’t storing all the blood sugar like it’s supposed to. Therefore, it secretes even more insulin.
And chronically elevated insulin levels eventually result in Type-2 Diabetes. Fun stuff. (Not really, that’s sarcasm.)
But the good news is that repeated bouts of explosive exercise not only burn off stored sugar, but also re-sensitize your body’s cells to insulin again. (Hurrah!)
So, by contrasting heavy lifting with explosive lifting, we can speed up the fat burning process not only by burning a ton of calories, but by also re-balancing and optimizing our fat-burning and fat-storing hormones.
Which means that we can eat more carbohydrates to do more work to burn more calories, which in turn burns even more fat.
Pretty cool, huh?
Kinetic Chain “Bias Contrasts”
Another contrast we need to use is kinetic chain “bias contrasts.”
This is where we bias, or overload certain kinetic chains of the body relative to others. (A kinetic chain is a group of muscles responsible for a particular movement, like flexion (folding) or extension (unfolding).)
For example, if you were to do a ton of Swings, you would be biasing the posterior kinetic chain – all the extensors of the body (the gluts, hamstrings, lower back).
Contrast that with Front Squats and you’re now biasing the anterior kinetic chain – all the flexors of the body (abs, hip flexors, etc.)
Alternating between different kinetic chains allows for very large volumes of work to be performed without experiencing overwhelming levels of fatigue and exceeding the ability to recover, and therefore large amounts of calories (fat) to be burned.
Good stuff which leads us to even better stuff…
Contrast #5: Work/Rest Contrasts
I will repeat this until I am blue in the face, because no one seems to be paying attention – especially in the fitness industry where more is always better:
It’s not how much work you can do from but how much you can recover from.
The body perceives your workouts as stress.
And stress taxes your body’s adaptive reserves – the ability to adapt and make the progress you want.
When you work out too hard, you literally run out of the ability to adapt, which makes recovery take longer.
So it stands to good reason then that in order to make the fastest progress, you need to do everything possible to help your body adapt to the stimulus you create through your workouts.
Then you can workout again and continue providing that ongoing stimulus which signals your body to continue changing.
The key then for maximal fat loss is to use the right balance of work and rest within each workout.
This, to a certain extent, is personal, depending on how “in-shape” a person is, but can be relatively estimated.
It should be short enough to get as much work as possible done, but long enough to keep force production as high as possible while maintaining exercise technique.
Remember, fatigue alters exercise technique, especially in novice and intermediate strength trainers, and limits your ability to produce force.
So, that means if you rest too little, your form will degrade and you can end up injured, and/or you’ll miss reps on your exercises, which will decrease the amount of work you can do, and therefore the number of calories you can expend.
Also, from a hormonal perspective, you’ll also be taxing your adrenal glands and increasing your amounts of circulating cortisol, which will hinder your fat loss efforts.
Of course I’m not talking doing extra workouts here, that’d obviously be contradicting everything I just said! No, I’m talking about what you do outside of your workouts.
Your workouts stress your sympathetic nervous system, the part of your body responsible for the “fight of flight” response.
You know – the one where you almost get into a car accident and then get the jello-legs afterwards. Yeah, that one.
Over-stressing your SNS leads to chronic fatigue, overtraining, irritability, depression, and here’s the biggie – fat gain.
And since we already live in a world that demands that we work 50+ hours a week, have car payments, one, maybe two mortgages, and kids that need to be driven all over creation for after-school activities, we’re already red-lining our minds and bodies.
So adding to the mix by forcing our bodies to burn all that excess fat through dietary changes and extra hard workouts will dramatically increase our stress levels and therefore our stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol).
That’s why it’s vitally important we balance out all this SNS stimulation by stimulating our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
This is the part of your body that’s responsible for the “rest and digest” part of our life.
By stimulating the PNS through “active recovery” methods, we decrease our body’s stress levels, reverse the stress hormone responses, and speed up the adaptive processes, which in our case, is how fast the body can burn off that unwanted body fat.
The take home point here is this:
By implementing calculated and controlled Neuro-Metabolic Contrasts into your training, you will see fat loss like you’ve never seen it before.
The question is –
That’s the subject of an upcoming article.