Like everyone in this industry, we ALL want to be able to spot-reduce fat, but I’m here to tell you that your personal trainer has been lying to you.
Unfortunately spot-reduction is a myth, as much as we’d like to believe the opposite. I remember back when I was studying at University this topic came up and the lecturer replied with;
“It takes approximately 20,000 crunches to burn 1lb of fat”
Now, I don’t know about you, but firstly, who has the time for that?! And secondly, I’m not sure I’d want to experience the ab cramps during, after and for the next 5 days following that, JUST FOR 1LB of fat. (And that’s MAYBE)
So, lets re-evaluate this topic and establish some “key” exercises that will get you the results you’re looking for!
First and foremost, I’m sure many of you have heard the term “Compound lifts.” What are these? Well, simply put, compound lifts are exercises that incorporate more than one muscle group at the same time. The great thing about using multiple muscles in one movement is that we can lift more weight when comparing with single joint exercises.
So, what are they?
For the most part, we all know what a squat is. Why does it work? It’s a full body movement, albeit a complex one. Squats work your quads (front of the thigh), your glutes (booty), hamstrings (back of your thigh), hip flexors and core.
Typically, the more weight we lift the more the muscle needs to work to move that weight and therefore more energy required to move said weight. What does this result in? More calories burned! That doesn’t mean run to the gym and load up the bar for barbell squats. As I mentioned, these are a complex movement and should be done with caution, especially when using a lot of weight.
An incredibly beneficial and massively under utilized exercise, the deadlift targets the posterior chain (muscles on the backside from your head down to your heels). Commonly seen performed poorly in most of your local fitness centers and mentioning no names, in some not at all (Planet Fitness).
The deadlift is a key exercise everyone should be able to perform, we use it without realizing on a daily basis when we go to pick up, well, literally anything. Dead in the sense that you should come to a dead stop each time the weight touches the ground. This allows you to reset your position at the start point of the exercise, reducing the risk of injury and displaying true strength where you’re not “bouncing” the weight off of the ground.
I absolutely recommend the deadlift and I absolutely recommend you have a certified trainer who understands the mechanics of the deadlift to help you! You can’t lose weight if you’re injured and can’t train! Form comes before load ladies and gents!
Barbell Bench Press
The gym bro’s hot topic! How much can you bench? How many of you get asked this question? What is the relevance and is it relevant? Not really. The barbell bench press is largely not applicable in daily life, but is great at your friends bbq. (Guys, most women are not impressed by how much weight you can lift, in fact, the number is likely meaningless to them - moving on)
Bench press is great for building your chest, working your triceps and shoulders (angle dependent) Get lifting!
These should be a staple in everyones program! Everyone should be able to perform a pull up, what if your hanging off a cliff and need to pull yourself up?! The ‘what-if’ scenario in everyones daily life. Yes, I realize this isn’t a likely scenario, but the pull up is a great challenge and goal for many people to accomplish. The pull-up will help to strengthen your upper body, targeting your lats or ‘wings.’ Just remember that gym bro that walks around with his arms out in space (although, usually these guys don’t have lats). They also work your other back muscles, core and a little bit of your chest. (Don’t expect to grow pecs from just doing pull-ups though)
Similarly to our other posterior chain movement (the deadlift) pull-ups (when performed correctly) will help counter that awful desk posture we all know so well. Let’s get a strong back ladies and gents!
Barbell Hip Thrusts
The latest trend and popular exercise among the ladies, the barbell hip thrust. The glutes are the largest muscle in the body. Let’s not forget that the glutes help to stabilize our pelvis and are therefore just as important for the men out there. Include this in your training program and you’ll likely see an increase in the weight you lift for both the barbell squat and the deadlift. Aside from barbell hip thrusts, the glutes do work in a multitude of exercises, for example: lunges, Romanian Deadlift, Single leg deadlift, Squats and so on.
I can talk all day about the benefits of strengthening your glutes but will save that for another blog post. Just remember the next time you’re sitting on your butt all day long, these muscles are getting lazy and need to be put to work otherwise they won’t work!
Compound Lifts - why do they help with fat loss?
So, now that we’ve established some key compound lifts, lets discuss why they help with fat-loss.
Simply put, incorporating multiple muscle groups, in particular the larger muscles, requires far more energy in order to make the muscle perform the task you’re asking of it. More energy required means more energy used. So get to the gym, load up that bar and lift (safely, please lift safely)
Remember, above all else
“Form before Load”