This is a century old question… what is the best workout for fat loss? What’s the best exercise for targeting belly fat? What’s better, HIIT or LISS… and so on. Do you choose to do compound lifts over isolation movements? Well, I’m going to tell you expose to you which workout and training split I use for fat loss, and why I believe it to be the best.
Before we go any further, I have some devasting news. There isn’t any one exercise which is better for fat loss than another, and there certainly isn’t a specific exercise for targeting particular areas of fat. The reason why, is because it’s actually impossible to spot reduce fatty areas. If you think that there’s an exercise which will reduce your belly fat, think again. To add insult to injury, nutrition is at least 70-80% of your fat loss battle. That means that without the correct nutrition, whatever workout program you sign up for, or choose to apply, it really has no relevance on your progress.
That means you’ve got to nail your nutrition, or least be consistent with it. When it comes to fat loss, that means staying within a calorie deficit. I always recommend eating 500kcal less than your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure), or in other words your maintenance calories. This should be a sufficient deficit to allow you to start losing weight.
I do have some good news though. If you are dedicated enough and see it through until the end, you can get in incredible shape, say goodbye to the beer-belly and be proud of your appearance. All it takes is consistency, dedication and patience.
If you’ve checked out my social media platforms, you’ll be aware that I like to put emphasis on losing specifically fat, not just weight from all areas of your body. They’re many ways to lose weight without it having any significance on how you actually look when you stare at yourself in the mirror. Let me explain what I mean.
I’m specifically referring here maintaining muscle mass whilst burning fat. This usually boils down to whether you should prioritise weight training or cardio. The answer is the former. Weight training. Why? Because when you apply resistance training into your workout routine, you’re keeping the muscles engaged, stimulated and active. What this does is preserve and maintain as much muscle mass as possible, which is crucial whilst in a calorie deficit, which allows your body to concentrate on burning away the fat. Your body doesn’t like to say goodbye to its fat, which is why it’ll look to other areas, especially your lean muscle mass to replace the depleted energy from being in a calorie deficit. If you’re keeping the muscles as activated as possible, you’re basically telling your body it needs to look elsewhere for that energy, which is when it turns to fat.
So, in a nutshell, the workout program I’m going to tell you is centred around weight and resistance training, over endless hours of cardio on the treadmill. I’m not saying cardio is bad for losing fat, and if you enjoy it then by all means carry on, but how many runners do you see that have a muscular look about them? When you’re losing fat, you want to have that lean look about you which will make your muscles look defined. That’s when you’ll start turning heads. This applies the same to females as it does to males. Yes, if you’re a female you should also be prioritising the dumbbell section over a spin class for example.
The Best Fat Loss Program
Anyway, now that we’ve got the boring stuff out the way, what’s the best workout for fat loss? I’m not saying it’s one rule fits all here, or that this is the only effective workout for fat loss, but I personally like to go with the Push/Pull/Legs/Rest (PPL) split. This results in you doing three days on and one day off. If you struggle for time or feel easily fatigued, don’t be afraid to have two full rest days in between, but ultimately, this is down to your personal preference. Basically, just make sure you feel well rested in between each split.
So, what is a PPL split? On one day you will do movements that formulate a push action. This will normally include things that go away from your body, such as a bench press, overhead press (OHP) and triceps exercises. On push days you will target your chest, shoulder and triceps. Don’t be afraid to throw some ab exercises in there as well if you’re feeling brave.
The next day you’ll do movements that come towards your body in the form of a pull action. We’re talking about your back and biceps here. Things like lateral pull-downs, rows, deadlifts, bicep curls and hammer curls.
Then, on the third day of the split comes the biggen’. LEGS. Do not skip leg day. I’ll say it again. Don’t skip leg day, especially when trying to lose fat. This is probably the most important day out of all three of the days to help your fat loss progression. Leg movements typically use up the most energy to complete the lift, causing you to burn the greatest number of calories, and use the most testosterone to complete the movement. Testosterone is great for building muscle and burning fat. What do you think steroids mainly are…? I want you to promise me that you won’t skip leg day. Promise yourself. Good leg exercises include squats (you can’t go wrong with squats) leg press, walking lunges, calf raises, leg extensions and leg curls. You’ve got enough variants of leg exercises to keep you busy.
Talking about exercises, if you stick around until the end, I have a special surprise for you.
After completing the split (including leg day) you’re going to need a rest. As I mentioned earlier, allow yourself up to two days if you need it. I personally do a PPL rest, but don’t feel bad about having that extra rest day.
Now, the idea of doing a PPL split is so that you can target each muscle group twice per week. Remember, whilst you’re in a calorie deficit, it’s important to keep the muscles as activated as possible during this phase. So, by training each muscle group twice per week, this allows you to keep that muscle and focus your efforts on burning fat. What’s more, is that because you’re training each muscle group twice per week, you don’t have to go extremely voluminous on the sets. For example, on push days you can do two exercises per muscle group; like bench press and dumbbell flye’s for chest, and when the second PPL split comes round, you can do incline bench press and low-cable crossover. In other words, the exercises you didn’t get to do on the first split, you can make up for on the second split. This is also great for keeping variation in your workouts so it doesn’t become mundane.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
When we’re talking about particular exercises and movements, I recommend going with compound lifts, but use a variation of compound and isolation movements to keep it interesting. Compound lifts work multiple muscle groups at once and expend the most energy (calories burned) to complete the movement. Great for fat loss. Try to incorporate at least one compound movement into every workout you do. Here’s a few of the best movements to include.
Okay, so we’ve covered which routine works best for fat loss and why, so how about I give you PPL training fat loss workout program for you to follow along?
But before I do that, I want you to know how to get the most out of your fat loss results:
Eat in a 500kcal deficit
Adopt a high protein diet (1g of protein per lbs of body weight)
Follow the workout schedule
How about cardio?
Like I said earlier, cardio isn’t bad, it’s just not the best option for particularly targeting fat loss. At some point along your fat loss journey, you may hit a plateau. There’re three things you can do in this situation:
Increase the intensity of your workouts – by adding more sets, reps, weight, exercises or less rest-time in between sets.
Decrease your calories – Over time as your body composition changes so will your TDEE. You should re-adjust your calories to reflect this change.
Introduce some cardio into your workouts – This will help you burn more calories without you having to increase intensity or decrease calories.
You can even do a combination of all three if you really want to accelerate out of your plateau. Be careful not to put too much on your plate at once though, I encourage you to be able to complete each workout to get the most satisfaction from it. Don’t make it too hard for yourself.
What’s the Best Form of Cardio for Fat Loss?
Let’s say then, it’s been several weeks and your progress has started to slow down, or you really love doing cardio and you want to know which form is the best to specifically help your fat loss goals. I like to go with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). For those of you who are unaware of what HIIT is, it’s basically a burst of intense activity, followed by a short rest. It could go something like this, three minutes of intense activity followed by a thirty second rest, and repeat.
I’m not saying that other forms of cardio are bad or ineffective, but this is why I personally like to use HIIT for fat loss:
It’s easy and quick to execute – You can get a solid HIIT session in with it only lasting about twenty minutes. What’s even more impressive is that you don’t need much space to complete the workout, which means you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
HIIT increases your EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) which means you can continue to burn calories twenty-four hours after the workout. This is one of the reasons it’s so effective for fat loss.
HIIT can stimulate the production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450% during the 24 hours after you finish your workout, which in return increases your metabolism.
You don’t need any equipment to complete the workouts – in fact some of the best HIIT sessions are done by only using your own bodyweight.
As promised, here’s my surprise I was going on about earlier. It’s a free PPL workout program along with a HIIT workout you can complete when you need it. In truth, you can also find some pretty decent HIIT workouts on YouTube these days. I would also recommend doing resistance training and cardio on different days to allow you to optimise and get the most out of each workout.
FREE Fat Loss Workout Program – The password to open it is ‘believeinlean’.
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So, let’s recap. Nutrition is the driving force behind at least 70% of all your results. Without the correct nutrition, it doesn’t matter what workout program you’re on, it’s essentially useless.
I recommend going with a PPL program with one to two rest days in between, depending on personal preference. The idea is to target each muscle group twice per week and try to lift as heavy as you can. This is crucial for preserving that goldmine of precious muscle allowing the body to focus on burning fat.
If your progress starts to stall or you love cardio, introduce some HIIT on alternate days from your training days so you can optimise each workout session.
Above all, be consistent, stay patient and trust the process. All your hard work and efforts will be rewarded.
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