Everybody Knows You Need To Lift Weights
Google "strength training and fat-loss" and you'll find a plethora of articles encouraging you to add heavy lifting to your weight-loss plan. And that's for good reason.
- Building muscle increases your metabolic rate, helping you to burn more calories both in action, and at rest.
- Lifting weights improves your insulin sensitivity, helping your body make better use of blood sugar and avoid storing it as fat.
- Strength efforts result in varying hormonal releases that all prompt your body to get better at using stored fas as fuel.
These are some pretty sweet benefits, right? There's even more pluses, but you get the idea. By getting strong, you're essentially optimizing the efficiency of your metabolism - defined by how your body makes, stores, and uses energy - which will result in also optimal physique benefits like...
- better muscle definition which is totally sexy and
- easier healthy weight maintenance i.e. you won't need to keep up with those insane amounts of cardio you've been doing to avoid big fluctuations
But What Kind Of Strength Training Is Best For Fat-loss?
Well, the best payoff really comes from sustained bouts of nearly maximal efforts(as opposed to actual max effort, HIIT, circuit training or bodybuilding). In laymen's terms, that translates to lifting pretty heavy weights for a decent amount of volume. This style of lifting will give your body the best shot of all those hormones like the catecholamines (epinepherine and norepinephrine), growth hormone, and testosterone. Yes, girl. Testosterone levels that are close to the high-end of the standard range are associated with leaner body composition in women too.
HOWEVER, the total-body, big lifts required for that kind of grinding effort we're looking for, are pretty complicated. And the technicality of said lifts, like front squats, deadlifts, and bench presses; can get in the way of your ability to safely get the rep count high enough for the intended result. My experienced gym-goers know what I mean here.
As time goes by, form starts to break down under these super heavy weights; and suddenly the costs of doing business, like loss of alignment and subsequent compensations and stress; are higher than the payoff.
If you're new to lifting, you definitely don't want to practice your skills under such high pressure; not to mention risk. Constantly pushing past the edge (what's comfortably difficult) not only stunts your physique goals by inappropriately revving your nervous system, but also puts you at a higher predisposition for injury. Laying in bed, nursing a tweaked back is certainly no way to get the fat-loss results you desire.
Not to worry! When Self Magazine asked me to supply my number one fat-loss tip a while back, I gave them the best tool I've got. And it's the most effective and safe way to begin incorporating heavy lifting into your routine more often.
Enter The Heavy Carry
To introduce our secret weapon, I'll leave you with a comment one of my mentors, Charlie Weingroff, made that I never forgot. For reference, he’s a world renowned physical therapist with a reputation of being genius-level smart. He lives primarily in the rehab and strength and conditioning worlds. But, he said if he did ever take on a fat-loss client, he would simply give this person some heavy kettlebells and ask them to carry the weights up and down Broadway, where we worked. This was some sage advice.
What Is a Heavy Carry?
A carry is really just the action of picking up something really heavy, and simply holding it or walking with it. That’s it. Doesn't sound that spectacular, right? But what is profound about this simple exercise, is that it’s way less risky than say, barbelll back squat for twenty reps.
Carries solve that problem of complication we encounter with the technical lifts, allowing us to hit the heavy weight and high volume requirements we need to get the right training effect.
There are an infinite amount of carries that you can practice throughout your workout to make it fun and challenging. It’s all about getting creative with the way you hold the kettlebells, dumbbells, sandbags, plates, whatever you got; and the kind of walking you choose to do or the static stance you hold. You can keep it super simple with a regular ole’ stroll as you bear hug a sand bag or plate. Or you can get as fancy as a heel-to-toe walk with one kettlebell in rack and the other at your side. In the photo below, I'm holding two kettlebells in that in-line half-kneel. Before you judge the difficulty of the work going on here, let me warn you; it's actually much tougher than it looks.
Create Your Own Carry Workout
Carry positions: single bell, double bell, over head, rack position, at your sides, bear hug(for sandbags and plates), baby carry, behind the back…
Static options: tall-kneeling, half-kneeling, half-kneeling in-line stance, half-kneeling with open hip, standing
Walking options: natural stroll, in-line, heel to toe, march
Combine any carry position and walk, switching it up as many times as you like. Some of my fave combos with bells are demonstrated in the video below.
Start your carry conditioning with at least a 1:1.5 work to rest ratio. So if you're carrying for 30sec, break for at least 45sec. You can add work time or decrease rest time as you get stronger.
Choose weights that you cannot do much else with besides walking or holding (with good alignment, of course).