Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Let me begin by saying that one of the worst ways to lose fat is by running  an ultra marathon. I don't run long distances to lose weight ... and neither should you. The stress of running a long way for a long time increases cortisol production which in turn inhibits fat loss. The human body is a super efficient machine and so will have you using up the least amount of fat on that long run ... so no fat loss there.
I do it because I like the challenge, both the mental and physical, whilst running through and experiencing the beauty of nature. As I've said many times before, I find it romantic. (Don't ask)
It's also not that healthy, yes you have to be super fit to do it but health and fitness are not necessarily the same thing ... but I digress.
After a great deal of research both from scientific study, practical client success stories and personal experience my conclusions are as follows;-

1) Sprinting
     Without doubt this is the number one fat burner and its quick and super efficient. You can burn the maximum amount of fat sprinting by doing only 12 minutes of exercise a week. Yep, that's what I said 12 minutes a week!   For example studies have shown that if you do 8 x 30 second sprints with 90 seconds rest in between, 3 times a week, you can lose up to 30% of body fat over an 8 week period. Its the EPOC effect of burning fat for up to 36 hours after the exercise is completed. That's 12 minutes a week  and you can increase Growth hormone (GH) production by up to 771% over the same period ... add hill sprints just to make it spicy. Are there downsides? The main downside is that if you don't train up to this level then you can have injuries, so start slowly and build up to this protocol week by week.
. 2) Cross country skiing.
 Okay, so you've got no snow but if you have, this is serious exercise ... and I don't mean downhill skiing, sorry.  The downside is it takes longer than sprinting and more preparation but it is less prone to injury (excluding Angela Merkel), and a great all round cardiovascular workout. It also provides a different metabolic stimulus for the body in the winter season.

3) Rowing.
   Ever seen a fat rower  thought not. Rowing machines are just as effective as long as it is, for example, 400 metres of short bursts of high intense rowing. Intense means full out. The downside here is that you have to learn proper technique for it to be effective.
4) Lifting weights.
Specifically, Barbell Back Squats, Dumbbell Decline Renegade Rows, Chin ups, Deadlift, Dips, Lunges, Cleans, Front squats, Snatch, Bent over rows etc.. etc but any combination of these exercises will increase lean muscle mass, cut fat and increase your fat burning potential. They can be done individually, combined in supersets or in a circuit. Correct technique is essential for these to be effective.
5) Bodyweight exercises.
 Burpees, press-ups, dips, mountain climbers, box jumps, lunges, squats. The main benefit here is that you don't need any equipment and you can do these virtually anywhere. I would also add skipping/jumping rope and cardio kickboxing.
 This is a great fat burner and a superb exercise but it has to be vigorous, as in short sprints. Cruising up and down the pool all day, nice as it is, ain't gonna burn much fat ... and you need water!
7) Walking.
    A surprising choice perhaps but walking at a good pace, i.e. power walking for an hour burns fat. Its low impact, low injury and can be done anywhere anytime but, I mean a good sustained pace, not a slow amble through the countryside picking daisies and reciting Wordsworth.
8) Jogging
    If you are new to exercise then jogging a few times a week (Minimum 45mins) will burn fat but after about one month its effectiveness will wear off as your body adapts, so then its just maintenance. Please don't jog on a running machine week after week  ... you are wasting your time, it's just junk miles and studies have shown that if you do only this for several years you will slowly put weight on! I know I have done it myself many years ago. I remained at about 16% body fat and never got slimmer. The only reason I didn't get fatter was that I ran further and further until it was an ultra marathon ... and still I didn't burn any fat!!
9) Cycling
This comes low in the list for obvious reasons. Long slow distance cycling burns very little fat (unless its the Tour de France) but throw in a few mountains and some speed sprints and now your talking. Doing a 4 minute 'Tabata' on a stationary bike is  highly effective or do a Sprints x 8 routine but on the bike. The downside is time, preparation ... and you need a bike.
10) Squash
     This is a highly intense anaerobic sport but I don't know many people who play squash, good as it is, probably because the downside is firstly, injuries and secondly ... you need a squash court!!

So there you have it, my top 10. To be brutally honest any high intensity exercise, (sprint/row/cycle) combined with strength work (bodyweight or free weights) and a little low impact cardio (jogging/ swimming/cycling/walking), done 5 times a week will do it but at least you have some variety in this list. We are all individuals and an exact program designed in line with your goals, body condition, fitness level and overall ability is the preferred option but if this is not possible then just do something!
No doubt I will get emails and comments disputing some of my choices but feel free, its all a learning curve and we never stop learning.
Obviously you need to combine these exercises with healthy nutrition ... but you knew that anyway.
Okay, so in my first two blogs of 2014 you know my opinions of what to eat and what to do ... and I think today is a great time to start, so go do it.



  1. Hey Phil,
    good to "see" you back online. Like your Goal for 2014 -- why don't you pop down to Southern Arizona to visit your ol' friend Pamela when you are in the US? I am about 5 hours away, but yhat's okay if you plan for a visit. would love to catch up & reminiscence about the 90's a bit -- would be a good laugh for sure!

    Your friend from California,

  2. Would love to, I'll email you.

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