Forget aerobics, the future of fat loss is GH/lactic acid training..
Can you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? Is cardio necessary if you want to get really shredded? Can manipulating the body’s natural growth-hormone levels through lactic-acid training be the answer we’ve all been looking for? Read the following article and decide for yourself. Better yet, try the program and let us know how it works for you.
It happens every damned time, doesn’t it? Like a fat chick in front of a Häagen-Dazs, your progress comes to a screeching halt the last two weeks of your diet. You try not to squander hard-earned muscle mass and strength, but you gotta’ make weight. What do you do? Add cardio? Increase exercise volume? Buy the latest muscle building formula?
Mental stress, nutrient restriction and aerobic exercise drive your cortisol levels sky high. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up a 98-pound poster boy for the Mr. Punyverse competition and be so weak in the gym that even the Body-for-Lifers make fun of your poundages. But it doesn’t have to be that way, not if you apply the recent info we have on how your body stores fat and give lactic acid training a shot.
Regional Adiposity: A Local Phenomenon
Men have a unique hierarchy of fat mobilisation. Basically, men shed fat from the inside out. Studies with male Rangers after prolonged energy deficit and exercise showed regional fat changes from greatest to least as follows:
Abdomen > Trunk > Arms > Legs
That means men lose fat first in the abdomen and the trunk, and lose fat last in the arms and legs. This is what I mean by losing fat from the “inside out.” Anyone that’s been around the iron game has observed this in novice body builders during contest preparation. The athlete leans out to 10% body fat using a progressively lower caloric intake and then gets stuck. The legs, triceps, and lower abs are still thick. The usual marathon aerobic sessions in combo with a starvation diet sucks the gas right out of the mass. I’ve witnessed men reduce 18-inch cannons to 15-inch peashooters in order to see a glimpse of leg definition. There must be a better way… and there is!
A better way would be to use a local fat-loss strategy, targeting the extremities (arms and legs) first and the torso last. But is that possible? Yes! Training programs which release growth hormone (GH) are thought to be most effective at doing just that. Before I get into the program, let’s examine why this is true.
Aerobics are a Man-Eater
Remember that fat mass is the enemy, not body mass or scale weight. Body-fat percentage is a factor of fat-free mass (water, muscle, bone, organs and connective tissue) and fat mass. Gaining lean mass while shedding fat mass is the fastest means to altering this percentage in your favour. Let’s examine the two obvious training choices: aerobic endurance training (marathon running) and anaerobic resistance training (body building).
Aerobic endurance training will increase calories burned, increase oxygen utilisation, and lower total body mass (scale weight). However, the process isn’t substrate specific, meaning your body will just as readily burn lean mass as it would fat mass. Paradoxically, it appears that fat in the trunk is more readily used as the fat source, which means that aerobic exercise doesn’t even target the problematic fat!
Over time there’s an increased catabolic response and a lowered anabolic response in aerobic endurance training. This is thought to be the reason for muscle-protein breakdown (catabolism) and thus the reduction in muscular strength and power over time. The challenge with aerobic conditioning is that it creates a progressively catabolic environment, combusting both lean mass and fat mass in order to fuel energy demands. (See Table 1 below.)
What about the argument that aerobic training uses more fat as its fuel source than does weight training? This is true, but there’s more to the story. Muscle damage induced by running and/or jogging doesn’t increase resting metabolic rate (RMR) beyond 24 hours. Data suggests however, that exercise with a significantly stronger eccentric component (i.e. resistance exercise) is necessary to evoke large amounts of muscle damage so that energy required for repair and synthesis may prolong post-exercise RMR.
The energetic cost of this remodelling (anabolism) is enormous, possibly accounting for up to 20% or 600 calories in the average muscle head. Other studies have proposed that there may be even greater energy utilisation from the muscle damage that weight training induces. This may account for the increased RMR for up to 72 hours post-workout.
Besides the technical stuff, the practical side of the aerobic thing is that it’s boring, time intensive and it wears on your joints, especially if you’re a heavyweight. Here’s a table to help you see the differences between weight training and aerobic endurance training:
Adaptations over Time of Resistance Training
Vs. Aerobic Endurance Training Resistance Training Aerobic Endurance Training Testosterone increases Testosterone decreases Growth hormone increases Growth hormone — unchanged Cortisol decreases Cortisol increases Muscle strength increases Muscle strength decreases Muscle endurance increases Muscle endurance increases Muscle fibre size increases Muscle fibre size — unchanged Bone density increases Bone density — unchanged % body fat decreases % body fat — slight decrease Fat-free mass increases Fat-free mass —unchanged Volume of oxygen — slight increase Volume of oxygen increases
Judging by this info, it’s pretty obvious which type of training is better for the body builder.
Weight Training: The Anabolic Smart Bomb
Due to the anabolic effect, weight training preferentially retains or adds lean mass at the expense of fat mass, even during caloric restriction. In fact, the T-Dawg Diet (low-carb/high protein) actually adds to the anabolic effect of weight training.
We know that weight training and supportive nutrition are better than aerobic training for attaining that coveted single digit, body-fat percentage, but what types of training progressions produce the biggest bang? Before I answer, indulge me a bit.
Serum anabolic hormones during prolonged weight training (six months) increase in direct proportion to strength gains. These results suggest the importance of the balance between androgenic-anabolic activity (i.e. Testosterone and growth hormone) and the catabolic hormone cortisol.
The best news is that there’s a direct relationship between strength gains and Testosterone production even in elite strength athletes. Maximum Testosterone output is generated with multiple-joint lifts (dead lifts, power cleans, squats) performed at a high percentage of maximum (85 to 95%) and at a high volume (6 to 12 sets). Traditional power lifting programs are well suited for greater Testosterone release (i.e. 8-12 sets of 2-5 reps, 3-6 minutes recovery).
The natural progression of training implies that greater strength is realised and increased tension time is placed on the muscle fibres. This triggers a second anabolic cascade of events. The muscle fibres increase in a cross-sectional area and the quantity of muscle contractile proteins starts to build (hypertrophy). The increase in muscle fibre hypertrophy is thought to occur by a remodelling of protein within the cell and an increase in the size and number of muscle cells. Exercise scientists have noted that these dramatic muscle changes accompany growth hormone secretion (GH). And maximum GH levels are augmented directly through blood-lactate increases.
In order to elicit GH production, sets of 8 to12 RM — along with short rest intervals of one minute or less — are best. Exercise selection must also include multiple joint compound movements that emphasize the leg muscles with a slow concentric (lifting) component. This anabolic condition is the foundation for many of the effective training programs such as the “10 x 10” method or German Volume Training popularised by Charles Poliquin.
To summarize, weight training produces a perpetual anabolic environment, increases calories burned, and leaves time to pursue leisure activities like re-renting Pumping Iron for the tenth time.
Lactic Acid Interval Training
With this new understanding and application of GH/lactic acid training, you can soon experience a dramatically lowered body-fat level. But in some cases this still won’t be enough; you’ll need to supplement your lactic-acid weight training with lactic-acid interval training. If you’re in a ballistic sport such as martial arts or boxing, then sparring each afternoon can be considered your interval workout. If not, a rowing ergometer or a simple jump rope will work.
How do you successfully use all this jargon for massive fat loss and explosive muscle gains? The following is a sample progression that forces GH to flood the muscle cells via the stimulation of blood lactate. By the way, I employed this same progression to cut 60 fat pounds off an aspiring Olympic athlete in just under twenty weeks.
This training has been nicknamed “death circuit” and “projectile speed training” by those who’ve survived it. This is because blood lactate levels rise to 20 mmol/l. You may want a partner to manually force you through all the prescribed sets — or help you clean up!
Any more information on this check out my meltdown training video on the weight loss page.