The “fat-burning zone” was once a magical retreat where exercisers could pop a tape in their Walkman, hop on a stair climber and bask in low-intensity bliss for hours. Over time, however, they discovered that while their Jock Jams II tape got them in the zone, not much fat was burning, despite their hefty investment of exercise time.
Today, the demand has never been greater for maximal results in minimal time, which has driven exercisers to look for more effective and efficient ways to lose fat and shape their bodies. In addition to high-intensity interval-training protocols, resistance training in many forms has been recognized for its effectiveness in promoting fat loss.
The fitness industry has responded by offering a variety of resistance-training methods, protocols and even brands for those looking to decrease body fat while increasing overall strength and vitality. Naturally, every method, protocol and brand claims to be a “fat-loss miracle,” promising maximal results in minimal time.
How can you help your clients wade through the gimmicks, gadgets and gurus to determine which resistance-training protocols are actually the BEST for burning fat? Answering this question requires an understanding of the dynamics of how the human body’s physiological systems respond and adapt to different resistance-training protocols.
Resistance training facilitates fat loss in a few different ways. For one, resistance training aids in the creation of more lean muscle mass. Higher amounts of lean muscle mass require an increased demand for energy expenditure, both during exercise and at rest. In other words, those with more lean muscle mass tend to burn more calories all day long.
Resistance training has also been found, along with high-intensity interval training, to increase the amount of oxygen the body requires to recover after an exercise bout. Referred to as “EPOC,” excess post-exercise oxygen consumption is a physiological phenomenon that increases the net caloric expenditure after a workout. In simple terms, you continue to burn calories after you’re done exercising. Additionally, the hormonal environment created by intense resistance training is favorable for muscle formation and fat utilization.
Nearly every resistance-training program for fat loss attempts to leverage an increase in lean muscle mass and EPOC, while creating a favorable hormonal environment to build muscle and burn fat. Various protocols manipulate different training variables, such as exercises utilized, training volume and training intensity, to convince the body to continue building muscle and burning fat.
Almost any resistance-training