A 2016 Study from the Journal of Exercise Physiology Online found that a low-volume, 12-week strength training program
saw an average reduction of 10.3% in abdominal fat
in BOTH Women & Men.
I know.. it sounds too good to be true.
Almost “Supermarket Tabloid Trash” like.
And no, there are no pills, potions, stimulants, fat loss “teas” or injections involved.
Actually, it’s a little TOO SIMPLE.
A study that came across my desk that was published in 2016 has basically thrown out the “abs are made in the kitchen” claim.
That you don’t need HIIT and you don’t even need to “diet” to lose fat.
Specifically, this new research “proved” that ONLY strength training (albeit a poorly designed strength training program), has the ability to burn fat.
But not just any fat… primarily the fat from your midsection.
“A Low-Volume Weight Training Protocol Reduces Abdominal Fat and Increases Muscle Strength in 12 Weeks,” by Martins, Ceschini, Battazza, Rodriguez, João, Bocalini, Charro, & Figueira Junior, in Journal of Exercise Physiology Online (2016)
Over the course of a 12-week program that involved 15 men and 15 women, concluded that a low-volume, 12-week strength training program yielded the following results…
- a 2.4% decrease in waist circumference,
- a 10.3% reduction in abdominal skinfold,
- a 1.8kg increase in lean body mass, and
- a 2.7kg (4%) reduction in body fat…
Despite only a small reduction in bodyweight.
Again, this is with ZERO dieting – ONLY strength training.
(More on the “strength” training in a moment.)
One big takeaway is that during this 12-week program, most of the results were obtained during the first 6 weeks.
This is pretty common and part of the reason why a lot phases in programming are no longer than 6 weeks.
In other words, you need to change some variables in order to allow exercisers to progress after certain amount of time.
For beginners it’s usually 6 weeks (sometimes 8 weeks) and for the more seasoned exerciser somewhere between 2-4 week phases are about right.
But the big EYE OPENER is the “10.3% DECREASE in abdominal skinfold thickness” (A.K.A. – a substantial reduction in abdominal fat)
…Again, without dieting – “just” Strength Training.
Here are the details of the “Strength Training” Program:
- Workouts were on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday lasting around 1 hour, over a 12-week period.
- Each session involved 9 exercises (45-degree leg press, bench press, trunk curl, deadlift, lat pull-downs, hip adduction machine, lateral raises, triceps extensions, and bicep curls)
- The Loading Parameters were: 3 sets of 8 reps with 85% of 1RM, with a 40-second rest period between sets and exercises.
Let’s take a minute to dissect this program a bit…
The bright spot for the program in the study is that the loads they used – 85% of 1 rep max – taps into the body’s fast-twitch muscle fibres which use the majority of the body’s energy.
Fast twitch muscle (the muscle you use to sprint & jump) is the “Fountain of Youth” and holding onto those muscle fibres as you age are key to staying young.
However, I have some criticism about the program…
First, there are a lot isolation exercises (hip adduction, later raises, tris & bi’s).
No squatting, pressing, swings… no “full body” exercises aside from the Deadlifts.
Next, the participants weren’t tested for strength gains over the 12-week period.
Again, MOST of the results occurred in the first 6 weeks. Therefore, I think it would be safe to assume that the same weights or close to them – for the same sets, reps, and rest periods – were used over the 12 weeks (ie. there was no progression).
And finally, 40 second rest periods?
That’s more like MetCon and not traditional strength training parameters for rest periods.
That’s significant because without adequate rest, exercise technique goes out the window and opens the door for potential injury.
BOTTOM LINE: The programming is questionable and poorly designed.
But we can do better…
As you know, I’m a BIG believer in using FULL BODY KETTLEBELL lifts as soon as you’ve developed a foundation of STRENGTH & SKILL with a kettlebell.
Because of what this study “proves”…
You can lose fat through “just” strength training.
The Caveat though…
…it has to be the “right” strength training.
It has to be of the higher intensity variety.
And it has to use “big” exercises –
Multi-joint exercises that use all your muscles in a coordinated fashion.
(Although you can use isolation exercises, as the study proves, but this is more time-consuming, and can be done more efficiently applying the correct exercise techniques.)
For example, here’s a GIF from my ReCOMP Course where I teach you the Clean & Push Press (which is a pre-curser to the Clean & Jerk)…
In a Kettlebell Clean & PUSH Press, you use your hamstrings, glutes, abs, back, shoulders, triceps, and even your biceps when your perform it correctly.
And those are just the parts that move you.
Your upper body takes a beating just from holding a kettlebell in the Rack Position, even though it’s not moving.
(It’s resisting movement.)
And the structure of my new “ReCOMP” program is based on approximately 85-87.5% of your 1RM.
So it’s congruent with what the study above used for intensity level.
The Point That I’m Trying To Make Is This…
If you want to lose fat – especially fat off your stomach, whether you’re a man or a woman – HEAVY total body strength training with a Kettlebell is your ticket to success.
You don’t even “have to” diet.
(Although, I will warn you, you can’t eat like a child and expect to replicate these types of results. You MUST eat like an adult. And adults don’t eat cereal & milk or PB&Js on WonderBread.)
So, let me ask you this…
Are you ready to get off the “fat loss” bandwagon and get stronger, put on muscle and lose fat without dieting?