With summer getting close, the one thing on many gym goers mind is “what can I do to lose that extra 10-15 lbs... that I gained during the winter months while drinking beer and eating chicken wings with Mike, Steve, and Larry every Sunday watching football and following it up by doing the same thing during March Madness." How’s that for a run-on sentence?
What folks fail to realize when attempting to attack this “bi-annual goal” (once as a new years resolution and the other during the Spring, which I’m referring to now) is that they’re completely wasting their time and energy.
The unofficial nickname of the town, Hoboken, where I currently reside, is “Mile Square City,” although it actually covers an area of two square miles when including the underwater parts of the Hudson River, and it's the birthplace of two American icons: Baseball and Frank Sinatra.
In this town there are 10 health clubs, which means there is about one gym every three blocks. Just the other day I went for a bike ride and purposely passed by each of these so called “gyms.” Not surprisingly, 90 percent of the treadmills and ellipticals were occupied by both male and female trainees whom both appeared to be reading books or magazines while in hopes of chasing that “fat loss dream.”
Before I go on, let me say this: if you are able to read words on a page that an 80-year-old woman would need to use a magnifying glass to see, you are accomplishing next to nothing in terms of losing unwanted body fat. Training for fat loss is an all out war and your ability to read and comprehend small words on a page isn’t possible if you’re exercising at the intensity which will illicit favorable changes in body composition. Although Steady State Cardiovascular work may have its health benefits, for most of us with limited time looking for maximal results your time would be better spent doing other “things” which could essentially kill two birds with the same stone.
Most of you are probably aware of the effect that proper nutrition and resistance training may have on your physique but it seems that “cardio” is widely misunderstood. There is a plethora of research out there showing interval training, or bouts of high intensity intervals of short duration alternated with active rest period’s, is superior with regard to changes in body composition when compared to long slow walking or running. High intensity interval training as a training modality is an article in itself, but for the purpose of this article and to give all of you readers something which you can include in your next workout, I'll be discussing a modality known as “Finishers”.
Finishers can be classified as any high intensity activity lasting typically 5-10 minutes executed at the conclusion of a workout. Its purpose is to give the body one last metabolic hit before leaving the gym; akin to the “last nail in the coffin” if you will. There are many variables for you to play with when including finishers in your workouts, which could include but are not limited to: equipment used, loading parameters, rest periods and volume (reps and sets).
Popularized by Istvan Javorek, a “Complex” is a series of movements, one done right after the other without putting down the chosen implement. All you need is a loaded barbell, dumbbells or Kettlebells.
You are to pick 4-6 different movements and do each movement for 3-6 repetitions before moving on to the next. At the conclusion of the Complex you will rest anywhere from 1-3 minutes and repeat 3-5 times depending on your current state of physical preparedness or “how good of shape you’re currently in.
Barbell Complex Example
Bent Over Row x 6
Romanian Deadlift x 6
Front Squat/Press x 6
Back Squat x 6
Rest 1-3 minutes and repeat 3-5x
Sled Dragging is foolproof way in jacking up the metabolic system without having to worry about technique. Basically what I’m mean is that it’s very hard for even beginners to screw this up! All you do is load up a sled or find something heavy to attach a rope to or strap to and drag. Be sure you keep a forward lean when dragging forward and lean back just a bit when dragging backwards.
Sled Dragging Example
Forward Drag 60 feet ->
Backwards Drag 60 feet
Rest 1-2 minutes and repeat 4-6x
For those of you withaccess to a “Concept 2 Rower”, my advice would be to take full advantage of it. There aren’t many pieces of equipment in the gym that tax the entire body like this machine does. Below are 2 examples of what I have found effective if you're planning to use the rower as a finisher.
1. 4-6 x 150 meters Rest 1’ between intervals (Men under 30 seconds, Women under 37 seconds for each 150)
*Add up the total time of all intervals and try and beat it next time you decide to do the workout
2. One all out 500 meter Rep.
*Try to beat your 500m time at the conclusion of each workout. No need to do more than 1 of these. The key is to go as fast as humanly possible.
Medicine Ball circuits are another great way give one last shot to the metabolic system at the conclusion of a workout without having to worry much about technique going down the drain due to accumulated fatigued. All you need is a medicine ball and a brick or concrete wall to throw the ball against. Walls made of sheet rock will not work well for this and you are likely to find yourself with a revoked gym membership after the balls travels through the wall into the yoga studio next door.
Medicine Ball Circuit Example
Chest Pass x 10
Overhead Throw x 10
Lateral Throw Left x 5
Lateral Throw Right x 5
Slam (into ground) x 10
Rest-1-3 minutes and repeat 3-4x
There are endless possibilities when designing finishers to implement during the conclusion of your workout. Although I have listed a few examples, by all means use the equipment you have available along with your creativity to create your own. The two most important elements to consider when planning these finishers are 1) keep the duration under 10 minutes 2) on a 1-10 scale with 1 being a walk in the park and 10 being passing out) you should be up around an 8-9. If you feel like you could have done more, you didn’t hit it with enough intensity.
Don't discount sports nutrition supplements in your fat loss program. Remember, protein is thermogenic, so its a good idea to supplement with a good fat burning protein powder, a fat burning drink, or even fat burning shots.
Remember, Fat Loss is an ALL OUT WAR!